What We Do


Nancy has been committed to the children and families in Sangamon County for 15 years. During that time, Nancy has advocated for 15 children, 5 of whom are currently in foster care, 7 have returned home, 2 are placed in guardianship, and 1 aged out of the system after 11 years in a residential center. The ages of these children have ranged from just a few months old to 21 and each one has left an indelible mark on Nancy’s heart.

Children removed from their home and placed into foster care, almost always feel overwhelmed and unsettled. It can be extremely scary for kids. Even if their home life had been chaotic, it was what they knew. Frequently, these kids are witnesses, as well as a victims, to trauma and they can present as angry, confused, and anxious. They are placed into a foster home with new rules, different food, often must attend a different school and there are lots of unknowns. They are managed by a system that is complicated and confusing. Too frequently, their foster placement changes for a myriad of reasons, as do caseworkers. Nancy reports that one little boy was moved so often, he called all the foster mother’s “Grandma” because he was too confused to learn their names. But he always calls her “Miss Nancy” because she has been his one consistent adult he has known for the more than 3 years he has been in foster care.

Those who know Nancy use words to describe her like persistent, professional, and thorough. Her CASA kids know her to be consistent with her visits and communications and that she is a constant presence whose main concern is advocating for their best interests. They know she writes reports to the Judge who is overseeing their case and attends the court hearings where the decisions are made about their future. They know she talks to their teachers and attends their IEP (Individual Education Plan), ACR (Administrative Case Reviews), CFTM (Child & Family Team Meetings), CIPP (Clinical Intervention for Placement Preservation) and like meetings to learn about their education, family issues, and case oversight. Nancy has been known to attend Doctor’s visits and school meetings as well. “I try to treat my assigned kids with the same respect and concern that I would want shown to the kids in my family. Basically, I follow the golden rule. All kids want the same things we did as kids… to feel safe, loved, supported, and heard. In my role as their CASA, I strive to make sure my kids know I am concerned about their safety, that I care and support them, and that I will listen to them. My court reports are geared toward recommendations that will lead to permanency in a home where they receive these foundational, stabilizing factors in abundance. When that happens, I’m sure what I do matters; that I’m making a difference by impacting their futures in very positive ways.

Being that one adult who is consistent and shows concern and who will answer their questions, assure them they are important and that their voice will be heard is what a CASA can be for a child. That is what Nancy does with all her CASA kids. She takes time to listen, offers her recommendations to the courts and strives all the while to develop a trust bond so her assigned foster kids know she is going to make their voice heard and always advocate for their best interests.


CASA volunteer, Janet, is truly committed to writing detailed, factual reports that give the court a clear mental image of the child’s situation. Janet’s reports ensure professionalism, consistency and objectivity. Janet attends all visits, meetings, and court hearings in order to advocate for the best interests of the CASA children she serves. Since becoming a CASA advocate in 2017, Janet has been assigned to 6 CASA foster children. Janet regularly communicates with her assigned children and all parties involved in order to find out what they are lacking and to offer necessary community resources for help.

Janet’s reports are so well written that the Juvenile judge has even been known to refer to her court reports in open court to identify concerns regarding the case. Janet also faithfully enters her notes into Optima so she can accurately use them to complete her court reports and keep her Advocate Supervisor and the Program Director up to date on her case.

The foster children who have been assigned to Janet continue to value her presence in their lives even beyond the closure of their case. Some have gained an additional friend for their village in their former CASA advocate.


A Casa’s work begins with getting to know a child and his or her situation. As a CASA volunteer since 2013, retired Speech Pathologist and LCPC, Sari has been invested to learn the needs of the foster children she supported.

When COVID19 caused all children to continue the school year from home, relying on parents to assist with learning and scheduling computer time, one of Sari’s CASA kids was at a disadvantage without her own computer. Her foster parents were a bit frazzled trying to keep all three girls productively busy at the same time and shared this frustration with Sari. CASA immediately contacted DCFS and the school district to discuss possible options. Within no time, the child was provided her own Chromebook computer by her school district and her foster parents were better able to manage the required remote learning for all the girls in a more efficient, and less chaotic, manner.

By learning about your child and their situation, as well as the resources available in your community, as a CASA you can keep up with the constant changes in the foster care system and the services available.


CASAs are valuable because they come from all walks-of-life and can draw on a variety of professional and personal experiences as well as ethnic backgrounds. Volunteers are selected on the basis of their objectivity, competence and commitment. No experience in the child welfare system is necessary to become a CASA advocate. While you may initially have little legal knowledge, you will learn a lot about the legal process and the juvenile court system through your CASA volunteer training and experience. CASA of Sangamon County delivers training to volunteers using the 30-hour Pre-Service National CASA training curriculum. In addition, each CASA volunteer is responsible for 12 continuing education hours each year. CASA offers monthly Brown Bag sessions with speakers discussing relevant trends and issues.

Sangamon County CASA offers their volunteer training via Zoom classes over a 6 week period. Our trainer is flexible and accommodating to ensure every training class is successful! At the end of each training period, Judge Karen Tharp holds an in person swearing in ceremony making each volunteer an official Court Appointed Special Advocate.