Here at CASA of Larimer County, we’re constantly amazed by the creativity and commitment of our volunteers. We know that for many children and youth in the foster care system, their CASA volunteer is the one stable adult in their life. We also know that the connection those kiddos feel to their CASAs has real, lasting outcomes for their resiliency and ability to thrive. In Colorado, wellbeing assessments of children with CASA volunteers demonstrate re-entry into the Dependency & Neglect courts is less than 10%. We’re proud of our CASA volunteers for the relationships they foster, their tireless advocacy, and for the incredible people they are.
Take volunteer Erin Hittle for example. She was sworn in as a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, in February of 2018 and hasn’t let 2020 slow her down. Recently, one of the children on her case, Sam*, developed a cold and Erin arranged a virtual visit over Zoom. Trevor*, Sam’s big brother, wanted to keep Erin to himself and took her (on an iPod) with him outside to show her a bunny he’d found. Next, Trevor decided to climb into the treehouse with Erin. Erin described his attempt this way, “He tried to climb up holding me, but couldn’t with only one hand. So he tried to tie a rope around the iPod, but it wasn’t working well. I cautioned him that I may slip out and fall. I asked him if he had a bucket; he could tie the rope around the bucket handle and put me in it.”
Trevor brought Erin with him into the sunroom and together they found a bucket. With Erin’s patient instruction, Trevor tied a rope around the bucket handle, placed Erin inside, and climbed up the tree-house. He narrated for her as he pulled her up into the treehouse in the bucket, “He was thrilled when it worked!” Erin said. They spent the rest of the visit traveling up and down the treehouse, Trevor delighted to share this success with Erin.
“I believe that my biggest impact as a CASA has been being an example of a caring and consistent adult. Some of these children have had many expectations unmet or promises broken, so to show them that they can trust and rely on people is meaningful,” Erin said. Trevor and Sam are Erin’s second case as a CASA, and it’s clear in her two years she’s already created big changes. When asked what led her to CASA initially, Erin said, “I wanted to help children in a mentor type program… When I started looking into other programs, CASA stood out to me. It is similar to other programs, but I feel like you just do more to help children. By advocating in the courts and looking into all the aspects of the children’s lives, you can really have an enormous impact.”
Every child in the Dependency & Neglect courts deserves a consistent, caring friend like Erin. Hearing stories like these of the small moments that create a lasting bond makes us grateful for Erin and people like her who want to make a difference for kids. “Commitment, fun, important,” are the three words Erin used to describe her work with CASA. We love hearing stories like these about her commitment, and love hearing about the fun, too.
Are you interested in becoming a CASA volunteer like Erin? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Annette Hoyt-Romero for more information.
*Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy