Each month, Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) celebrates the advocacy of one of our CASA volunteers. This month, we celebrate Barbara Loring, a volunteer advocate in Ottawa County since January of 2017.
Barbara is married to Ben Loring, her husband of 34 years. Together they have two grown sons and are eagerly awaiting grandchildren.
Barbara’s background is in education. She taught in Miami Public School’s elementary special education program for 33 years before retiring six years ago. She clearly has a passion for helping kids. Even though she is retired, she continues to work part time in early childhood special education for the district.
Barbara is thankful for her part time schedule. This has given her much more time to focus on projects she is passionate about. She is currently a member of the Gabriel Project with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Miami Pilot Club, as well as a panel member of Graduated Sanctions for Ottawa County.
In addition to this, Barbara was given the chance to serve on the CANO-CASA board of directors. Barbara credits her volunteer work to being on the board, saying “I realized at that time that it was the perfect opportunity for me to go through the volunteer training. I did this to first, help me be a better board member and secondly, to fulfill a dream that I had for years… to be a CASA volunteer!”
“It is rewarding to be an advocate or a voice for children in a difficult situation,” Barbara says regarding her year and a half of volunteering. “Children in the foster system can get lost or don’t feel like they are heard. As a volunteer, you can be the one constant for the children and be their voice in court.”
One of the things Barbara enjoys most about volunteering for CASA is “seeing the children frequently and getting to know them… They are young children and we spend our time playing with what interests them, usually toys!”
There is, of course, a burden that comes with serving as a CASA volunteer. Barbara says “the biggest challenge as a volunteer is worrying about your children and making recommendations that are in their best interest.” However, no matter how difficult volunteering may seem, it is “rewarding when positive steps are made in working toward reunifying a family. It is great to be part of a team that is working toward a common goal.”
Barbara is exactly what we are looking for at CASA – a person with a huge heart for kids. In fact, we can never have too many volunteers. We host trainings for prospective volunteers year round and most likely in your home town.
When asked what she would tell others about CASA, Barbara said “I would recommend pursuing the CASA volunteer training to anyone who has a love for children and a willingness to be their loving and consistent support during a difficult time. Visits with the children and realizing you are making a difference in some way in their lives is uplifting and rewarding.”
Volunteer Your Time to Change a Child’s Life
Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care. As a court-appointed special advocate CASA volunteer, you are empowered by the courts to help make this dream a reality. You will not only bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable children, but also their children and generations to come. And in doing so, you will enrich your life as well.
What Do CASA Volunteers Do?
CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act.
Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.
Who Can Be a Volunteer?
You do not have to be a lawyer or a social worker to be a volunteer. We welcome people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.
You must be at least 21, pass a background check, participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average).
What Are the Requirements to Be a CASA?
- Demonstrates emotional maturity
- Is objective and flexible
- Exhibits self assurance and assertiveness
- Has the ability to make decisions and set goals
- Is willing to commit to the program for a minimum of 24 months
- Demonstrates the ability to write and speak clearly and concisely
CASAs are not:
- CASAs are not Big Brothers or Big Sisters
- CASAs are not attorneys
- CASA are not social workers
- CASAs are not rescuers
- Friends of the Court
- Eyes and ears of the Court
- Independent and objective people who represent the child’s best interest
CASA Video: I Am for the Child
Did you know that 400,000 children in America are still waiting for their CASA volunteer? Waiting for that one trusted adult who will stick with them until their case is resolved. Waiting because today CASA can serve only 35% of the children in the foster care system. Waiting for YOU!
CASA Video: Everyday Heroes
Everyday Heroes highlights CASA volunteers making a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. It provides a rare opportunity to hear directly from children about their homes before and after a CASA volunteer came into their lives.
Use Link to Become a CASA Volunteer
Are YOU ready to become a CASA volunteer? Simply use the action button below to access the required forms and additional information about the application process. An abused and/or neglected child is waiting for YOUR help!
CASA Video: Former First Lady Laura Bush
Child abuse is an epidemic across this nation. Currently, fewer than half the children in foster care have a CASA volunteer to stand up for them. Former First Lady Laura Bush focuses on the need for more Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs).