Friday, Feb 26, 2021
Caitlin and Dustin Stallings
February Volunteers of the Month
Caitlin and Dustin joined CASA in the beginning of 2020. After becoming familiar with the program through family and friends, they decided to go through training and take a case as a team. They are now on their second case, where they have been advocating for four siblings. The children were removed for a variety of child welfare concerns regarding abuse and neglect and are unfortunately all placed in different homes.
In the beginning, Caitlin recalls the siblings being distant, especially the oldest youth.
“At first, she didn’t even want to look us in the eye.”
Over the next few months, the couple made strides in their relationships with the kids.
“Now when we visit she is outgoing, bubbly, jokes around and has opened up. It has been nice to develop a relationship with all of them.”
Caitlin also remarked how having them both on the same case has allowed them to bond with each kid in different and special ways.
“Dustin relates to the boys about sports, or video games, they really connect with him on visits and gravitate to him.”
The case itself has had ongoing challenges. Along with virtual court dates getting delayed further back, there have been many struggles along the way in making progress in the case. Restrictions to the court process because of Covid protocols, adjudication has not been able to be completed and the case is in a holding pattern. Since the duration of the case has been under quarantine, the children have also had to complete school remotely for the majority of the year. The slow pace of the case combined with the prolonged separation from their parents, siblings, and friends has been undoubtedly tough for the kids. Caitlin and Dustin are sure to always be thoughtful of their situation and made it their priority to help ensure the children have the resources they need to support their mental and emotional health. They check in with their therapists, spend significant amounts of time going between all of their placements to visit, and even connected one of the children to educational resources to help them adjust to virtual learning. They make sure to talk to them about school, and their accomplishments, and what they are experiencing.
Dustin says, “We just want to be that positive voice and tell them they can get through this and do amazing things, and that this situation doesn’t define rest of their lives.”
Caitlin added how her and Dustin became CASA Volunteers because they want to show kids “not just how they can get through this but thrive. And that this is only a speedbump in their journey.”
We thank Caitlin and Dustin for bringing another story to light about the impact CASA volunteers, and CASA couples, can have on the lives of the children we serve.