Every Indiana foster child has a case manager, a birth family with possibly concerned relatives, and foster parents. They also have (or should have) a legal advocate. Either a CASA (Court-appointed special advocate) or GAL (Guardian-ad-litem.) Although they undergo training, they are unpaid volunteers, giving of their time, as you do, to serve kids in need.
CASAs and GALs are important players. They have legal standing in court. Their role is to advise the judge independently when there is disagreement between the parties. Too often, in the absence of any contact with or feedback from the foster parents, they may be apt to go along with the case manager.
Don’t let that happen automatically. Having support from your child’s CASA can be very important. Especially if you and your case manager end up disagreeing. CASAs make recommendations to the judge. Get along with your CASA.
To get along, you must continue to be in contact. Your CASA needs to know about the child in your care. If you don’t know who she or he is, find out. Ask your case manager, the court secretary, or your attorney.
Then keep your CASA informed. Send him or her copies of any regular reports that you send to the DCS. Send your CASA a memo of any meetings you have with your case manager.
A well-informed CASA can be a resource, or even an advocate for you and your child. Ask for practical information about procedures. Or help in dealing with your child’s problems at school.
Invite your CASA for a home visit at a time when your child will be present. After school. Or even for supper. Sharing a meal together is a wonderful way to offer pertinent information and make connections.
Be honest. Don’t be shy about having problems or asking for help. Everyone has problems with their children, and especially foster parents. Asking someone for help is a good way to make a friend.
CASAs and GALs can play an important role in your child’s quest for a permanent home. Keep them up to date.