Volunteers are essential in CASA's mission to advocate for children in the child welfare system and provide dedicated attention and support while they wait for safe, permanent homes.
Volunteer advocates provide a stable, caring adult presence for children navigating a tumultuous and overwhelmed system. For people who volunteer with CASA, making an impact in the lives of children in need is a fulfilling endeavor that few have the opportunity to experience.
In this interview, volunteer Katie Grom shares her journey to becoming a CASA, how the experience has enriched her life, and how you can join her on Douglas County’s volunteer team.
Learn more about how to become a CASA and help a child in need!
I learned about CASA from a few of my former volunteer co-workers – one of whom went on to work for CASA. At the time, I was working at a nonprofit afterschool program and saw how impactful a positive mentor or adult could be for a child. I also met quite a few adults who were guardians of children in the system that would’ve benefited from some support or additional resources. I wanted to be that positive adult mentor and support for a child.
I have been a CASA volunteer for almost two years. I’ve been assigned to my current case since June 11, 2021, and it is the only case I’ve worked on.
The best part of being a CASA volunteer is the relationship I’ve built with the kids and their temporary caregivers. My visits are one of the very few consistencies in the children’s lives. They are always so excited to see me when I get there. I try to give each child one-on-one attention during each of my visits. The children do not get much, if any, positive individual attention, so I think that makes a huge difference in the trust the kids have placed in me. I also have a great rapport with the temporary caregivers of my case. I feel they trust me as a confidant. They’ve had a very long and stressful road with the children’s case. It feels good knowing the support I’m providing the children also gives the placement a little peace.
I’d spend an average of about 5 hours a month on my CASA duties. The majority of that time is the visits themselves. I usually spend an additional 5 hours working on court reports when preparing for an upcoming hearing every few months.
I notice a difference in how I approach situations and see the world based on my experience as a CASA volunteer. I’ve noticed myself pausing and thinking about all aspects/views of a situation before reacting. I have also become a more empathetic person.
I would tell someone considering volunteering with CASA that it has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever participated in. The situations can be difficult, but seeing the kids’ faces when you get there and play with their favorite toys or watch their favorite shows makes all the hard work seem so easy. It’s heartwarming to see the resources you found or connections you’ve made positively impact a child’s life.