Denton County Living Well Magazine March/April 2016 - Page 42

CASA Advocating for the Child By Melanie Hess H ow come the TV is still on? Is it really 3 a.m.? Why does Mom always leave for so long? Why does the baby keep crying? Where is the food? School will be a good break from all this. Wasn’t it supposed to start last week? Many parents cannot fathom why any child would have to ask these questions. Others know it’s the daily reality for thousands of children in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. As freeing as it can be to leave an unsafe situation, children often enter the foster system with a mix of emotions, some feel as alone and confused as before. While the hope is that a foster home will serve as a temporary haven, each home or center does not always last the duration of a child’s time in the already overwhelmed system. Fortunately, children can count on at least a glimpse of consistency throughout this season in the form of their Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a volunteer who comes alongside the courts to help place the child in a permanent safe, loving home. Consistency is Key “As a CASA, you are the constant in a child’s life,” says Sylvia Gray, an eight-year CASA veteran in Dallas. Gray explained with the average case lasting about a year, a child’s CASA \