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Why is Sara Smiling?
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“Sara” is a young teen in foster care living in a residential treatment facility. Not long after entering foster care she met “Diane.” Diane is her Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working to ensure a safe and permanent home for Sara.

At the beginning of their relationship, Sara wanted nothing to do with Diane. Sara would pull her hood over her eyes, cross her arms, and sit in silence, but Diane kept visiting regularly. It took several months before Sara began responding. In her role as a CASA, Diane wanted to be a constant presence in Sara’s life. According to Diane, “You work through the initial resistance because just being there is what’s important.” CASAs offer themselves to a child; they offer consistency, acceptance, and routine.

At every visit, Diane takes a bag containing games and activities. Sara has her favorite activities and these are the ones she and Diane most often engage in. Sara is comfortable with the choices that Diane offers. Most importantly, she knows what to expect – Diane is the only consistent adult in her life. Diane and Sara enjoy board games, drawing and artwork, watching videos, and having their nails done. They also engage in academic endeavors, like going on the computer and doing math problems.

There are many rewards that come from being a CASA volunteer. Diane recalls a recent drawing she received from Sara. It was a big heart emblazoned with love you. Diane thought Sara intended to give it to someone in her family, instead, Diane was the recipient. “I told her, I have a place in my house where I put the artwork from my grandchildren. I’ll put your drawing there too.” Suddenly a brilliant smile lit up Sara’s entire face.

Diane has never cancelled a meeting with Sara, she is adamant about keeping all of her scheduled appointments. Diane is committed to this relationship and Sara knows that. She knows Diane is reliable, there are no surprises.

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