CASA volunteers envision a better future for foster kids

Jun 21 2012

By Erin Findley

“My CASA volunteer was able to see me where I am now.”

This was a powerful reminder for me. Spoken by a former foster youth who introduced himself in a general session at this year’s National CASA Conference. He is a college student. An articulate young man. A voice for other foster youth.

Coming to National CASA, I had been discouraged about the plight of many of our older teens in care. A handful of youth on my caseload have been in care for two to three times as long as I have worked at CASA (2.5 years). These are the kids for whom I feel the greatest sense of urgency and it was evident in the large number of workshops related to older youth that these are among the most vulnerable kids in care on a national scale. 

This youth’s simple statement begged the questions for me: What do I envision for my kids? What do I believe to be possible for them? Do I envision stable, loving adoptive homes for them, even when they’re 15, 16, or 17 years of age? Do I fight for those in the face of doubt or opposition? Do I envision these youth as college graduates? As valued employees, or leaders, in their future companies? As future moms and dads who will make a better future for their kids?

One of the speakers asked us to look at these kids not just as aging out of care, but as aging into adulthood. He asked us to think about the possibilities for the kids we serve, to think about what we are challenging our kids to do and what they need to accomplish what they want to do.

I left National CASA challenged and energized by the thought that what we believe is possible for our CASA youth can have a significant impact on what is actually possible for them. CASA volunteers have the opportunity to help a youth see into their future and to set the bar for what they might accomplish. And what a privilege it would be to have your former CASA youth stand in front of a crowd of listeners and recall you as the one who saw where they could be today.