Friday, Nov 30, 2018
The Child Welfare System is comprised of many individuals that care about children and fight for their futures. The sad reality, however, is that the number of children in need of help is often overwhelming and disproportional to the number of available professionals that work with them. Many children are left without someone who will get to know them on a deeper level, hear their voice, and help make decisions that will improve their well-being. That is where CASA comes in. CASA Volunteers are in a unique position to work with a child and build a one-on-one relationship unlike the other professionals on a case. They are able to delve into a child’s situation and understand a child’s specific needs in ways others simply are unable to. One CASA Volunteer who has recognized the importance of this role and exemplified her passion in improving the lives of children is Barbara Zeidman, November Advocate of the Month.
Barbara is avid about being active in her community; she sings in choral groups and teaches local cooking classes. She also loves to fly-fish and spends any extra time she has with her grandchildren. However, she says the work she has been doing for CASA the past eight years has been some of the most rewarding. She is on her ninth case, and her journey with her current CASA children is a textbook example of the important work CASA Volunteers do.
When she first began on this case, the children were still living with their parents. Despite issues of sexual abuse and substance abuse, the case was aimed towards reunification. Once it was clear that would not be possible, Barbara and other professionals on the case decided to move forward in getting them into forever homes where they could build a new future. “I learned that kids not getting reunified with their parents is not always defeat, it is a victory.” The youngest child told the Judge when they were first removed from their home, “thank you for taking me out of the there.”
There are four children on the case, but it is slightly unique from her other cases in that Barbara is a CASA for only the two youngest. Barbara worked adamantly to make sure their lives weren’t completely derailed as they searched for their new homes. She tried to make sure they were not just safe, but able to thrive and do what they love. The younger child wanted to get into something where he could be active, and she found a local center where he could join roller hockey. The older child was taken out of band when they had to switch schools, and Barbara helped find a band camp to make sure she did not miss out on her love for music. Barbara thinks being able to provide these kinds of services for her CASA children has made all the difference. “It has done so much for their self-confidence, and has shown them dreams are possible.”
Barbara feels the children are happier in their current situations and can move forward for the first time in their lives. “They have realized their lives didn’t have to end, even though their relationships with their parents did.” Three of the four children on the case are already in permanent homes, and the youngest will be placed in his forever home in December. Barbara says the most important thing she can do as a CASA Volunteer is to help these children trust again. “If you say you’re going to do something, do it, or if you say you will be somewhere, be there.” She explains that these children have already lived through so much disappointment and need to know people can keep their commitments.
Barbara has made somewhat of a name for herself for our program. Her reports have been commended by court clerks as some of the most well-written, and Judges often seek her personally when considering a CASA for a case. “She is easily one of the most in-demand CASAs we have”, Senior Program Coordinator Matt Cale notes. CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties thanks Barbara Zeidman for going above-and-beyond and for the insight she has provided to her cases and the children she serves! Our program is that much better with her as a CASA Volunteer Advocate!