by Connie Ricketts
In June, 450 CASA staff, volunteers and other supporters converged on Capitol Hill to bring the children’s voice to elected officials. Connie Ricketts, CASA program coordinator, Northern Essex CASA (MA), describes her delegation’s successful day on the Hill in her guest blog post below.
On June 12, nine members from four CASA programs in Massachusetts ascended Capitol Hill to share stories about the great work we do, thank our staunch supporters, and to educate those not familiar with the impact that court appointed special advocates have on the lives of abused and neglected children.
We were welcomed very openly first by Senator Kerry’s legislative correspondent, Megan Thompson, who hosted us four years ago during the last CASA Meets Congress event and was looking forward to an update on how we were doing. She too had an update. Senator Kerry introduced a bill called “Families for Foster Youth Stamp Act” in which he is supporting a United States postage stamp from which some monies will in turn be available for the Court Improvement Program and programs of the Adoption Opportunities Act. Senator Kerry is aware of the plight of our foster youth and supports improving permanency for this population.
Second, we spent time collectively and personally with Sen. Scott Brown. On the day of our meeting, Senator Brown was set to give a speech to the House of Representatives urging bi-partisan support of the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA). WOW, how lucky we are to have someone as important as Scott Brown advocating for VAWA, which reauthorizes CASA funding for four years. What was especially important was that Senator Brown shared his own story of the impact of domestic violence within his own family, upon him personally, and the story of his troubled youth. He shared a touching story about a juvenile court judge who “saw potential in him” and years later told him that he knew he would rise above the crime he committed as a youth. Isn’t that what a CASA volunteer does? CASA advocates see potential in the children we serve and they too need an opportunity to be who they want to be.
Massachusetts CASA volunteers are proud of the legislative support both federally and locally that we receive because it is a testament to the important work we do and our supporters know that the voices of the children we serve will be heard.
Photo: Members of the Massachusetts CASA Meets Congress delegation met with representatives including Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), center.