Our CASAs make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children every day. For your inspiration, we would like to spotlight our everyday heroes.
MEET BETSEY PETIT
CASA of Cuyahoga County would like to say a huge thank you to Betsey Petit, who is a retired nurse and now a CASA. Betsey graduated from The Catholic University of America School of Nursing. She began her career at Providence Hospital working in cardiac care, medicine, and surgery. Betsey moved on to the National Rehabilitation Hospital, working with patients who suffered traumatic brain injuries. That was another step that took her to her ultimate nursing love - working for The Arc of Prince George's County, Maryland, as their first R.N. for people with developmental disabilities. Betsey was also the director of a nonprofit medical adult day program.
Betsey became a nurse as a result of her first born child having multiple disabillities. As a CASA, Betsey honors her daughter, Sarah's, memory because she loved children and shaped who Betsey is today, and Betsey honors her other daughter, Becky, who has followed Betsey into nursing and advocating for people with disabilities.
Since retiring, Betsey has been searching for volunteer work that would once again bring her closer to people in need. Betsey's using everything she's learned throughout her career, as well as what she learned in training, working on behalf of vulnerable children and collaborating with families, social workers, and attorneys.
CASA, Eric Silver
I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate to become an advocate for children, who, through no fault of their own, are often the most vulnerable and at-risk members of our community. I was intrigued by the opportunity. I completed my CASA training in May, 2017. I am working on my first case, advocating for 3 children in one family.
During my initial interview, I wondered if being a CASA truly allowed one the opportunity to "make a difference" in the lives of the children we advocate for. I was not interested in being a lay person who was added to the "deep bench" of professionals already involved in a case, unless, as a CASA, there would be an opportunity to play a signifcant role. I was assured that there is room in the process for the CASA to assert his/her views, to add value and to impact the potential outcome of the case. I have found my work to be meaningful and I believe that I am having an impact on the direction of the case and, maybe, on the trajectory of the lives of the children that I am advocating for.
I collaborate and coordinate my investigation efforts with the Guardian ad Litem, Gail Nanowsky. Gail is an amazing resource for me given her extensive experience and she is a former magistrate. She has been generous with her time and we connect on a regular basis by phone, text, and in person. Since this is my first case, we scheduled some of our home visits together. Following a visit or court appearance, we spend time sharing our observations and discussing our own interpretation of information that we gathered. We exchanged and leveraged information that each of us gathered independently and created frequent opportunities for collaboration. We both commented on the fact that we feel the same sense of TEAM when interacting with the social workers involved in the case.
Being a CASA has had a positive impact on my life. I work at keeping an open mind and being slow to judge. Becoming a CASA has sensitized me to the difficult challenges that many in our community face on a daily basis. I have become aware of the vast resources that are readily available to those trying to improve their lives and the lives of the family members who they are responsible for. I have learned that there are many real opportunities for support, education, social services and general assistance for those willing to work hard to improve the circumstances that brought their family into the Juvenile Justice System.
My advice to new CASAs would be, while you work to give a child a voice ... be prepared to do a great deal of listening first. Try to find those in your case who will help you. Ask lots of questions and schedule your first few home visits to coincide with visits of others (social workers, GAL, etc.) who are more experienced. Watch for incremental improvement in the family circumstances and don't shoot for perfection.
Fun Fact About Eric: I have lived in the Cleveland are my entire life, except for 4 years at The Ohio State University (O-H!). I have been married for 30+ years and have 3 adult children, all living out of state.