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National CASA Association G.F. Bettineski Child Advocate of the Year Award

Diana Smith
Enotah CASA, Blairsville, GA

The G.F. Bettineski Child Advocate of the Year award recognizes an outstanding CASA/GAL volunteer who has made significant contributions toward promoting the best interests of abused or neglected children and who supports the CASA/GAL program in the community.

Diana Smith is “the volunteer every CASA program director dreams of,” according to Enotah CASA’s executive director. Since 1999, her determination, energy and compassion has helped 47 children in her community find safe, permanent homes. A former special education teacher, Diana often takes the most challenging and devastating cases, and she does it with determination and compassion.

Diana was “an easy choice” for Georgia CASA’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year.

Diana helped a 16-year old girl—who had been serving as the parent-figure for her brother and her mother, who was struggling with addiction—adjust to her new foster placement, address medical needs that had gone unmet while in the system, improve her grades, and set goals for a career in medicine.

When the mother in one of her cases was sent to jail and the family lost their ability to communicate, Diana went to the jail and retrieved the family’s cell phone. She took the phone to her CASA youth’s brother, who had no other way to contact his sister at her foster placement. These weekly phone calls allowed the family to maintain contact, ensure one another’s well-being, and adjust. When the Enotah CASA program fell upon hard times, Diana helped rebuild by recruiting and motivating her fellow CASA volunteers. Today, the program is serving 100 percent of the children before the Enotah Circuit.

Diana attends all court dates, medical appointments, visitations, family treatment courts, school events, and other out of court activities for her CASA children. When her CASA children move away, Diana’s involvement doesn’t stop. She makes sure they have what they need. She is a stable presence in their lives, and her energy and compassion helps bring each child to a more trusting place.

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