OUTSTANDING FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER
CASA of JEFFERSON County is celebrating 13 years serving children in foster care in Jefferson County Illinois.... Thank you to all the advocates and board members who made this possible. .
Welcome Aboard to our New Advocates sworn in Monday, August 15th. Thank you to the Honorable Judge Timothy Neubauer for your many years of serve to our court system. Best wishes in your retirement! .
My name is Carol Rudofski and I am currently the President of the Board of CASA of Jefferson County
And here is my story…
In late 2006 or early 2007 I was asked to sit on a steering committee to organize and create a CASA in Jefferson County. I have to be honest with you, I had NO idea what CASA was, but I wasn’t sure this community needed another non-profit agency that focused on children…so I said ‘sure, I’ll sit on this committee.’ And in the back of my mind, I was thinking ‘we don’t need this agency’…
But let’s go back a few years…
You see, after a life-shattering/life-changing event that happened to our family in 2004, we, my husband and two daughters, decided that we would like to adopt another child. We weren’t interested in an infant, so we didn’t choose private adoption, but decided to try to adopt out of the ‘system’
After completing Foster Care classes, we were licensed as a Foster to Adopt home in 2006. See, I WAS already working with an agency that was working with children…
So the timing of us becoming a foster home and me being asked to sit on the CASA Steering committee happened very close to each other. As a foster home, we worked with our licensing agency who at the time was Catholic Social Services, known today as Caritas. They were a wonderful agency to work with. They guided and helped us each step of the way in this new chapter in our lives.
And then one day I attended a periodic court hearing for our foster child. I’ll never forget meeting our case worker in the hallway of the courthouse and she was carrying a stack of files this high. I remember saying to her…OMGosh, you have a busy day ahead of you. She replied, these are just the files for your childs hearing. It was at that moment I realized how overworked our agencies are…trying to keep up with calls, placements, trying to recruit foster homes, attending court hearings, attending/supervising parent/child visits, checking on the kids, making sure that mom and or dad were completing necessary services, adoptions and on and on and on.
So I became a believer in CASA…a Court Appointed Special Advocate, whose sole responsibility was to focus on the child. To observe the child, visit with the child, talk to the child, record this information and report it to the courts. To possibly be the ONLY constant adult in the presence of the child’s life.
We had foster placements where we were the fifth or sixth home in the same year for the child. Can you imagine that? Being placed with total strangers 5 or 6 times in 12 months? All the new rules you’d have to learn; shoes off at the door, you can leave your shoes on, we eat a 5p, we sit at the table for all meals, no TV on while eating dinner, no TV until homework is done, no computer time after 8p, lights off when you leave the room, bedtime is 9:00p, no you can’t help yourself to food anytime you want it, no food in your room, put your plate in the dishwasher…wash your own plate, make your bed every day,
…and what about the anxiety of starting at a new school, making friends, extra-curricular activities….would the child still be on the basketball, volleyball, softball team or would they have to prove themselves again, and again and again. As you try to go to sleep at night, wondering if you will be sleeping in the same bed tomorrow??? Can you for a moment imagine being that child…I mean really imagine it?
In the 6 and a half years we did foster care, we had approximately 28 children through our home. Some children we had for years, some we had for weeks, some only for weekends.
A volunteer CASA Advocate concentrates on the child…or children associated with their appointed case. They work towards making sure the child doesn’t get lost in the over-burdened legal and social system. They work towards making sure the child is thriving (as best as possible) and they aren’t languishing in a wrong foster home or group home placement. Our CASA volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
For many abused and neglected children, their volunteer CASA Advocate will be the ONE constant adult presence in their lives.
These children, who’ve had no control over the cards they’ve been dealt so far in their lives need the love and care and help of not just one person, but a community of people...