Imagine what it would be like to lose your parents, not because of something you did, but because they can't - or won't - take care of you.
Now, into your life come dozens of strangers: police, foster parents, social workers, judges, lawyers, and more. Having a CASA volunteer means having by your side a trained and committed adult who has been appointed by a judge to watch over and advocate for your best interests. It can make the difference between homelessness and a safe home, between dropping out and completing school, between unemployment and success, between jail and becoming a productive member of society.
The children in the foster care system have experienced more trauma, disappointment, and fear than most of us can imagine. To them the world is an unstable place. They feel powerless and voiceless, and they are often left with more questions than answers. Directed by Nathanael Matanick and Tony Cruz, the short film, Removed, tells the story of these children more poignantly than words ever could:
Removed (2013) - Film's Website
Nearly every story from a child who has experienced the child welfare system is filled with chaos and uncertainty. A CASA volunteer can make a difference. By committing to work with a child for the duration of their case, a CASA brings stability and consistency to world where they are sorely lacking. By advocating for swift placement in safe, nuturing, permanent homes, CASA volunteers can limit the suffering of these kids and help them look towards the future rather than a turbulent past.
Eddie is far too familiar with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, entering the system when he was 10 years old and being taken out of his home and placed in foster care at age 11. Eddie remained in the foster care system until he was 21, living in numerous foster and group homes and attending several different schools. Through the years he demonstrated tremendous resilience, courage, and tenacity navigating a difficult system without his family by his side.
Eddie embraced the help he was given by his CASA volunteer. A relationship was forged early on and together the two of them worked through the issues he faced as he moved from being a child to becoming a young adult. His CASA volunteer made it known to him that she would be the one constant in his life filled with ever-changing case workers, foster parents, teachers, and placements.
Eddie got behind the podium at CASA Lake County's 2016 Gala to tell his story:
Eddie’s musical work, under the stage name EddieBars, has been increasing in popularity. His work ethic is remarkable and he is reaching out to other kids “in the system” to let them know there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the help of his CASA volunteer, he saw his potential and has become a strong capable adult ready to give back to help others who struggle with difficult family situations.
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