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Kathy Bach: I Believe in Families

Kathy BachWinnebago County CASA Program, Rockford, IL

I believe that families need to be together—children need their family of origin if at all possible. I have never believed that someone gets up in the morning and says: “I’m going to beat my kids. Or, “I don’t have anything to do today, I’m going to make life miserable for my children.” It comes from generations of a belief system, of dynamics that you don’t know anything about until you get deep into a case. I’ve learned so much from families. I think that each and every family, in its dysfunction, loves their children. I truly believe that.

Twenty-one years ago, Kathy Bach and two friends decided to go back to school when their children were getting older. The trio learned about the new Winnebago County CASA program while researching possible community service projects. Kathy and two of the other original volunteers diligently advocated for children for more than 20 years.

What kept Kathy going? Her commitment to family, and her belief that by focusing on the needs of the children, she can often help a family make positive changes that enable them to stay together.

It’s awesome to find all the networks in our community that are set up to help these families be better, to learn different ways of parenting. We are all a work in progress, maybe these families struggle a little bit harder.

Kathy attributes the success of CASA volunteers to having time to do research and build relationships. While caseworkers may be overburdened and constrained to a weekday schedule, CASA volunteers can visit families and others on weekends and evenings, gaining needed information and building rapport.

Kathy is also a firm believer in the importance of remaining neutral.

For me, 90% of the time, if the families know that you are interested in their children’s welfare I think you make more inroads. If you are doing the job the way you are supposed to, you aren’t bringing an agenda to the table. You are coming from a place of advocating for the children; you are not on anybody’s side other than the children.

 

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The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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