Imagine if you will, you’re a child again. Back in grade school. You have your friends, teachers, books, video games, homework and your little sister. Things at home are mostly ok but sometimes can get a bit out of hand with mom and dad fighting. For the most part, mom and dad love you. On occasion they do drugs late a night while they think you’re asleep, but they’re not really bad drugs.
Then one evening after school, there’s a knock on the door and a voice announces “This is the police! We have a warrant to search the premises, open up.” Mom and dad jump off the couch and run to the bedroom just as the door bursts open off its hinges. There are police… lots of police. You hear a toilet flush off the bedroom. You are grabbed by a policewoman who tells you, “Don’t worry, you’ll be ok… stay next to me.” You hear shouting in the bedroom with your mother and father and the police and you’re terribly frightened not knowing what is happening. You look at your sister who is in tears and you start to cry too, wanting to be with you mom and dad. The policewoman reassures you both “Everything’s going be ok, I’ll take care of you. Stay here with me.”
In a shocked dream state, you watch the horror unfold in slow motion before you eyes. The police quickly look throughout the house, opening doors, drawers and looking in closets until they finally bring in a big dog that sniffs and scratches at the floor under the coffee table. The police move a rug and open up a hidden area under the floor revealing guns, bags full of white powder and money. You’re horrified and shaking. Mom and dad appear from the bedroom in handcuffs being led by the police. You wonder “Are they going to jail? Will I see them again?” You reach out to grab at them as they are taken out of the house but the policewoman holds you back …and then it hits you in the pit of your stomach, “Who is going to take care of me and where will I live?”
In your imagination, you’ve just experienced firsthand what it is like to become a foster child. After your mom and dad were taken into custody, you were taken to the police station with the policewoman. You waited in a small room with some toys and your sister… very afraid. After a very long time, an aunt you met once in your life showed up and took you to her house. You don’t know her and she knows very little about you. She takes you to your new “home” and you and sis hold either other, terrified of what might happen next. In Illinois DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) now becomes your “parents” and they will work to find you a permanent home while your aunt takes care of you.
The problem is a, DCFS case worker can have 60 or 70 cases just like yours, so you really have no one… just yourself and if you’re lucky enough, your sister is with you too; sometimes siblings are separated.
That’s not the end of the story though. For many foster children in Lake County Illinois, a CASA is assigned to advocate for them. A CASA is a trained “Court Appointed Special Advocate.” The children are visited in their foster home by the CASA who makes sure they are safe and have what they need; proper medical, dental, eye care and counseling support if required. CASAs are non-paid volunteers and have authority vested in them from the juvenile court judges to obtain personal information on the children. They can talk to teachers, clergy, doctors and counselors to make sure the children are ok.
A CASA volunteers to follow a single foster case through the court system until the children are permanently reunited with their parents after mom and/or dad meet specific (and usually life changing) guidelines, or permanently adopted by a family. Either way, the CASA signs on for about 2 years worth of “watching out for the children.” CASAs visit the children and provide valuable reports to the Juvenile Courts that make critical recommendations for their care and well-being.
G5 Creative Group proudly supports CASA of Lake County, Illinois both by advocating and donating talents and services. Greg Guess, the Sr. V.P, and Chief Creative Director is an advocate and speaks highly of the organization and its mission. “I’ve personally been involved with children torn from their parents. I’ve seen the terrified looks in their eyes. They wonder if anyone really cares and whom they can trust. They see CASAs as someone who is a constant in their lives.” Greg goes on to say, “CASAs commit to a case from beginning to end, whereas the children may have multiple case workers. After a while, the children know you’re ‘for real’ and they sense it. “
“Having a foster child call out your name with a happy laugh and jump into your arms during a visit is a life-changing event” Greg claims. “The CASA organization is ran by dedicated, professional people who care for foster children. We’re glad to be a part of their work.”
For more information on CASA contact G5 Creative Group or visit CASA’s website at “casaforchildren.org.” G5 encourages you to consider becoming a CASA.