Jill became a Court Appointed Special Advocate in February 2020, after attending our 35-hour training, which happened to be the last in-person training before the pandemic. In October of 2020, Jill was matched with 19-year-old Natalie* a foster youth who had opted-in for services to support her transition to independent living, which included having a CASA Advocate.
Supporting a youth in the Independent Living Program is quite different from a minor, as the Advocate does not meet with caregivers, such as foster families or biological parents. Instead, the role of the Advocate is one-to-one mentorship and support, helping a youth navigate adulthood and resources. For example, helping fill out applications, pay bills, secure housing, and visit doctors.
When Jill first met Natalie, it was still the early days of the pandemic, so they would meet outside and go for walks. From day one, the two of them clicked and Natalie was enthusiastic to share about herself and her interests. They would walk and talk every few weeks and then this evolved into them spending time together every week.
As Natalie doesn’t drive, Jill would pick her up or meet her somewhere where Natalie could take public transportation. This encouraged Natallie to get out of the house and interact with others. Natalie would introduce Jill to her friends, and they would all hang out together. Jill simply was introduced as another friend and there was no awkwardness.
Jill supported and mentored Natalie by asking her what she wanted and how she thought she could get there. Jill did not impose her will or judgement on Natalie, just helped her and encouraged her to accomplish what Natalie wanted for herself. Jill became a supporting guide who was always there for Natalie as she tackled her goals and to celebrate what Natalie accomplished on her own.
The two remained together as CASA and youth until Natalie turned 21 in July 2022 and aged out of the system. They have continued their relationship unofficially and plan on remaining friends and in contact with each other.
* fictitious name