casa: why i signed up.

I've mentioned CASA a few times on this blog, but so far, I haven't actually talked too much about what it is, and why I volunteer. And since I have a lot to talk about over the next month, I want to spell all of that out here, especially because God has been teaching me so, so much through it.

About CASA

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) was started more than 30 years ago by a juvenile court judge who was concerned about making decisions with insufficient information. He found volunteers from the community to study the facts in a case, report to the court, and advocate for the best interests of the child.

A CASA is sometimes called guardian ad-litems in other areas, though here, that's the name for the lawyer appointed to the child. They're assigned to one case (which may involve multiple children, depending on the family), and remain assigned throughout the duration of the case (this can be a year, or even longer). Because of this, they can easily become the one constant in the child's life, in the middle of a lot of upheaval.

As a CASA, I spend time on a regular basis with the children I've been assigned. I get to know everyone involved in their case - there are often a lot of people! Parents and other family members, foster parents, lawyers, social workers, doctors and therapists, teachers and guidance counselors, mentors - and the list goes on. I provide a report to the judge at every court hearing, and work with the other adults and authorities involved to make sure each child can live in a safe, happy, and healthy environment.

Why I signed up

For years, I've been interested in orphans and adoption. Eventually, I'd like to adopt children of my own, or maybe foster them, but as I've sought God's leading, he's been clear that now is not the right time for those things (though I suspect that time is drawing nearer). Volunteering as a CASA was a way for me to be involved in that system.

Also, when I started this process, I was working from home. In my off-hours, I spent most of my time with friends from church. Nearly everyone I spent time with already knew Christ, and though I wanted to be able to share my faith with those around me, I didn't know how to go about meeting them. And even though I didn't begin volunteering as a CASA until after I started working for CBN, the same scenario was true there. I knew that if I wanted to tell people who didn't know Jesus about him, I had to find a way to go where they were.

And, lastly, a lot of the work I do for CASA is very administrative, so that fits pretty well with my gifts and interests. That isn't to say that its not incredibly hard at times, and that it hasn't stretched me outside of my comfort zone - it is, and it does, often. But there are so many things that God has taught me through doing this, so many ways that I've seen more of him, that it will take at least another entire post to explain them all - so I'll write about those things tomorrow.

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