How Seniors Can Get Involved In Foster Care – Forbes
May 31, 2022
Another option for seniors to get involved in foster care is to train to be Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or CASAs, says White. CASAs represent children in court and speak to the judge on behalf of children’s best interests. Their relationships with kids in foster care are much like long-term mentorships, explains White. They usually meet with kids at least once a month and investigate a child’s situation, interviewing birth parents and other relatives, teachers, doctors, their foster parents and social workers so they can make informed recommendations to judges deciding on issues like custody and visitation.
Serving as judges’ eyes and ears in each case, CASAs have an opportunity to make a positive impact on kids’ lives as a consistent and reliable means of support to the child, says White.
In Los Angeles, CASA volunteers must complete 35 hours of training before working with a child in the program. Their job is to provide trauma-informed and culturally responsive support for children to determine their best options for a long-term and safe home, whether it’s with their parents, a legal guardian or an adoptive home, says CASA Los Angeles CEO Charity Chandler-Cole.
“Seniors make amazing CASAs because they normally tend to have more time, resources and wisdom, and they provide a unique intergenerational lens that our youth can benefit from,” says Chandler-Cole.
Because CASAs aren’t burdened with case management or day-in, day-out foster caregiving, they provide a vital function, says White. “They can take a step back and see the entire situation, which enables them to make thoughtful recommendations. This is why CASAs receive much validation and appreciation in the judicial system,” he says.
Guardian ad litems (GALs) are very similar to CASAs; how they differ depends on state and county jurisdictions. Both are appointed by courts to advocate for children, but GALs might be paid and are often required to be attorneys, whereas CASAs are unpaid volunteers who are not necessarily lawyers. GALs focus more on providing kids with legal help than CASAs do. CASAs might spend more time with the child and getting to know everyone on their care teams, says DeGarmo.