The Impact of Having a CASA Volunteer

Allison GilbreathAllison Gilbreath
Former Foster Youth, Current CASA Volunteer with Richmond (VA) CASA


Allison’s story illustrates the multiple ways that a CASA volunteer can be of value to the court: investigator, facilitator and advocate. Allison’s mother had a long history of prescription drug abuse. Whenever her mom’s behavior caught the attention of the authorities, well-behaved, straight-A student Allison was able to convince them that it was just a one-time thing. Eventually, the situation deteriorated to the point that Allison was placed in kinship foster care at age 11. A CASA volunteer was appointed.

Allison said, “My CASA volunteer was the first person to really get to know me. I wasn’t just a paycheck to her. I was able to tell her that I had lied to all the social workers in the past, that my mom had a serious drug problem and that I had essentially been taking care of myself for years.” Allison went on, “My CASA volunteer got help for my mom. My CASA volunteer arranged for me to speak in court. I wanted to tell the judge, ‘My mom is a great mom when she isn’t using drugs.’ I don’t know if it made any difference in the judge’s decision but I felt so empowered when I got to do that. Eventually, my mom got clean. I was able to move back home with her at 13.”

Allison concluded, “Without CASA, I know my mom would have died of an overdose since that’s where she was already headed. I would feel so guilty if that had happened. For sure, I would not be where I am today: a college graduate, employed, happily married for two years. I am so grateful for having a CASA volunteer in my life. As soon as I turned 21, I took the CASA training and became a volunteer myself. I tell people all the time, “I am a CASA because I had a CASA."

 

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