March 29, 2021
CASA/GAL volunteers help children with developmental disabilities thrive
When children with developmental disabilities are removed from their homes, they become involved with multiple systems—the court system, the child welfare system, the special education system, and the health care system. With support from the National CASA/GAL Association for Children, highly-trained CASA/GAL volunteers from a nationwide network of 948 state and local programs help connect the dots between these systems and families. They work to make sure that comprehensive wraparound services are provided for the child, including primary and mental health care.
Lisa*, a volunteer from CASA Youth Advocates in Media, PA, advocates for 15-year-old Jared* who is currently housed at a residential facility. When the world went virtual, so did much of Lisa’s advocacy. She increased her contact with Jared to at least weekly via FaceTime and Zoom. Although Lisa was assigned to Jared’s case for several months before the pandemic hit, she reported not feeling like she was able to connect with him during visits at his residential treatment facility. After a month or two of frequent virtual contacts, Lisa reported to her case supervisor that her relationship with Jared was growing quite strong. In fact, during one “visit”, Jared asked Lisa if she could stay on Zoom after their visit while he worked on his homework. That began a frequent experience for Lisa and Jared during the pandemic, where she would stay on Zoom while Jared would talk through his homework. As a teen with significant learning disorders, having an adult to help him stay focused and listen as he processed his homework questions out loud, helped him to be successful during an unusual virtual school year. Jared could not have had this experience without the extra support from his caring, consistent CASA volunteer, Lisa.
We need more volunteers like Lisa across the country to advocate for children with developmental disabilities, making sure they receive the specialized support and services needed to improve their quality of life and well-being. Your support will help National CASA/GAL and our nationwide network recruit, train and support more volunteers so we can be there for more children in need.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy. Image is not of actual subjects.