Monday, October 1, 2012

From the Bench - A Judge Speaks

Why I Want a CASA Volunteer for Every Child

In June, Judge Joyce Williams Warren, 10th Division Circuit Court, AR, was named 2012 National CASA Judge of the Year for her support of the CASA cause and efforts to improve the lives of abused and neglected children. She was nominated by the Pulaski County CASA program in Little Rock.
Judge Joyce Williams Warren
Below, Judge Warren turns the spotlight on CASA volunteers, sharing words of admiration for advocates’ drive, skills and contributions, and describing why she thinks every abused and neglected child should have a CASA volunteer.

I want a CASA for every child. It is a goal that I’ve had since I started. I love CASA volunteers because they go out of their way to stay for the life of the case, through thick and thin, and do the best they can to ensure that needed services are provided and that children get out of the foster care system. Caseworkers can be incredibly talented but are often overworked. Appointed attorneys and others may change. The CASA volunteer is often the one committed and caring adult who is looking out for a child’s best interests.

I get a lot of CASA volunteers before me—but not as many as I would love! These volunteers are driven from within—from the core of their being—to improve the lives of children. They give their time, dedication and energy to the work because they love it, because they know that it is important and because they care about people. They are there for the children, not for accolades or awards.

CASA volunteers tackle tough situations and issues, and they follow through. Even when it gets really bad, and really frustrating, and really disheartening, they keep going because it’s their mission—to improve the lives of children who are abused and neglected and get them out of the court system, back home or into an alternate home that is safe, permanent and appropriate to them.

A good CASA volunteer is objective and fair, willing to challenge systems that aren't working, open-minded, eager to learn, and able to talk with others in an appropriate way even when they are disagreeing. CASA volunteers are honest and determined. And I must add that they have common sense, because that goes a long way.

As a result of all of these things—their drive, passion, hard work, and the dedication and information that CASA volunteers bring to bear on these cases—I am able to make the best decisions for the children that come before me. I could not do my job as well as I do without them. Listen to Judge Warren's advice to volunteers about working with judges (3 MB MP3).

Read more from members of the judicial community in the Judges' Page newsletter.

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