She loves chicken nuggets with honey mustard as the dipping sauce, dislikes carrots, is working on green foods, prefers a night-light at bedtime, singing in the car is mandatory, and silliness is the best medicine.
These facts about a ten-year-old may seem simple, but Kelley Thompson knows that the small details matter to kids. They become especially important when a CASA child changes placements multiple times.
“As a CASA Volunteer, we can amplify a child’s voice,” said Kelley.
If a child moves placements, Kelley considers what can be done to create ease, comfort, and safety.
“I want to be a resource for the people caring for the child,” said Kelley. “If you can help them through those initial bumps, it can smooth out the rest of the road.”
Since her involvement in the case 14+ months ago, Kelley’s current assigned CASA youth has changed placements three times. During the most recent move to a new foster placement, Kelley felt as though she and her assigned CASA child reached a deeper level of trust.
“We moved her into her new house, and it was a really emotional day,” said Kelley. “She was scared, but we both knew that she was safe. She trusted me when I said that I would follow her wherever she goes.”
Kelley understands that this consistency is the key to long-term and meaningful relationships with the children, their parents, and any caregivers.
“I take a multi-prong approach,” said Kelley. “You have your relationship with the child, with the placement, with the bio family, with the professional team…You want to nurture all of it if you can,” she said. “If a kiddo asks you, ‘What’s going on with my mom?’ you want to speak to it with sincerity. In the tough moments, you can keep everyone moving forward this way,” she explained.
Ironically, it was not until she began her role as a CASA Volunteer, that she truly realized nurturing the family unit was a full-circle experience for her own family.
“Both of my parents went through hardships as children and were in foster placements. I believe my CASA journey is healing for them. When they were young, CASA wasn’t established” she said. “I am giving back to a community that my parents were a part of way back when, and it’s come full circle. They’re so proud.”
Kelley plans on remaining in her assigned CASA child’s life for as long as the CASA child feels comfortable. She will keep up with the child’s interests, wants, and needs, always there to let whoever needs to know – she loves chicken nuggets and hates carrots (and everything in between).