The CASA Connection

Message from the Executive Director

For children in foster care, the future can be grim.  Nationally, 24% of former foster children become homeless after aging out of the system, 61% are unemployed after one year, 53% are unemployed five years later.  As children transition from teenagers to adulthood, their challenges are significant.  For children who do not have a stable home or consistent adult guidance, this transition can be overwhelming and discouraging.  
CASA DuPage is introducing the Empowering Futures program to support advocates working with older youth in foster care on goal setting and life skills to better prepare them for independence. Through this program we are training advocates to begin conversations with younger teenagers about looking toward their futures with a view of optimism. 
was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend our recent Empowering Futures training for advocates working with older youth.  It was inspiring to see the engagement level of our advocates as they passionately shared stories about the children they are mentoring.  We have other exciting news to share about our events, our team and the story of Keisha, an extraordinary advocate!  Thank you for all you do to help abused, neglected and vulnerable children in DuPage county.

CASA Launches

New Empowering Futures Program

CASA of DuPage County’s Empowering Futures Program provides support to advocates working with older youth in foster care to address the challenges they will face as they prepare for their future in education, employment and living independently.  Empowering Futures is grounded in a youth-driven process to provide training, tools, resources and other support to our advocates working with youth ages 12 and older to engage them in goal setting and developing necessary life skills and self-advocacy as they prepare for independence.  On Friday, January 28, 2022 we held our first focused training program, attended by 25 active advocate volunteers, which included expert speakers who presented on:
  • The impact of trauma on the teenage brain
  • Mental health first aid
  • Understanding and working with Dual Status Youth
    (involvement in both Juvenile Abuse and Juvenile Delinquency courts)
  • Utilizing a needs assessment tool that outlines education, employment, housing, life skills, supportive relationships, community resources, and physical/behavioral health.   
Thank you to the speakers who provided valuable information and the attendees who participated in this initial training.

Specialized training programs and access to available resources will continue to be provided to CASA of DuPage County volunteers who are mentoring children and youth in this age group.  As many of our advocates have been assisting youth in preparing for adulthood, this new initiative will give them a consistent stream of training, tools, support and resources customized to the needs of children in DuPage County. 

Advocate Spotlight

CASA DuPage is Pleased to Introduce
Keisha Akins
One of our Extraordinary Advocates

Keisha came to CASA of DuPage looking for a volunteer opportunity to complement her Master of Psychology degree she was working on at the time.  Her original goal was to work with DCFS, but after she discovered CASA on the DuPage County website, she knew it was the perfect fit! 
Keisha was sworn in October 2020 and conducted all her initial training virtually.  This was a challenge for new advocates sworn in during COVID restrictions, as they missed out on personal interactions with their peers and supervisors.  Keisha was assigned to her first case advocating for a teen girl, age 15.  When they first met, the young girl was very quiet, not social, and was not engaged with friends or activities at school.  Keisha worked closely with her, encouraging her to start thinking about her future.  Keisha suggested she start by writing her goals for the next month.  After she did, they moved on to write her goals for the next year and then into her future. 
Keisha also recommended she start journaling as one way to express her feelings—especially during times when she was uncomfortable talking with her foster parents.  Keisha told her it was a good way to let her feelings out, instead of bottling up her emotions and frustrations.  She also worked closely with the young teen to start writing things she liked to do and was interested in, so when the time came to start thinking about college, she might have an idea of what she would like to study.    
Keisha was delighted to see her taking advice and finding these activities were helfpul.  Keisha said that in the past year, this young girl has made a 360° shift in her personality, attitude, and initiative.  She is now researching the colleges she would like to attend and has a direction for her college major.  She is now involved in school activities, including track, and seems to really be enjoying high school. 
One thing Keisha mentioned was how extremely helpful her Advocate Supervisor Jackie has been.  Keisha noted, “Jackie has been there every step of the way and I am grateful for her experience and support.”  She said that Jackie was instrumental in helping provide her with websites for college tours and information on the SAT and ACT testing.  Jackie told us that the family has come to rely on Keisha to answer their questions and has been a lifeline to them as they navigate the DCFS process.   

Keisha has three children of her own and is a resident of Naperville. 
Thank you, Keisha, for being one of our Extraordinary Advocates! 

Register Now for the CASA Golf Classic at Cantigny! 

Registration is now open to participate in CASA of DuPage County's annual Golf Classic on Thursday, May 19th at the beautiful Cantigny Golf Course in Wheaton.

There are several opportunities available to participate at various levels.  Sponsorships and advertising ranges from $300 to $7,500 and provide great name/logo recognition for your organization across several media outlets.  You can also golf, purchase a foursome or simply join us at the reception, dinner and program.
It will be a memorable day with lunch, golf, entertaining contests and games, unique raffle items, fabulous live auction items and an enjoyable time with friends--all while raising much-needed funds for abused and neglected children.

Keep an eye out for the invitation and registration form in the mail or click below to register online now!  We look forward to seeing you there!
Register Now!

Jackie Rankin Awarded Scholarship for Loyola Children's Law Program

DuPage CASA Advocate Supervisor Jackie Rankin, was selected
as one of 12 individuals across the U.S. to receive a scholarship through the National CASA Organization to participate in the Loyola Civitas Child Law Center - Children's Law and Policy Executive Program. 
Partners since 2011, Loyola and National CASA developed a specialized curriculum that will better serve CASA leaders and provide training consistency across the entire CASA network.  There are nearly 1,000 CASA programs nationwide and 31 in Illinois.  
Jackie is an attorney, interested in this opportunity to further develop her skills as an advocate and supervisor.  The program focuses on child welfare law and policy as well as leadership development.  Jackie mentioned, "One of the perks of the program is that I get to meet CASA staff from all over the country and hear about their programs!  It makes me appreciate how unique it is to have our program serve 100% of the children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect."  She is currently in her second semester and the program will conclude in spring 2022. 
We are proud that Jackie is representing CASA of DuPage County as part of this exclusive program!

CASA of DuPage County

The mission of DuPage County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is to recruit, train and support volunteer citizen advocates to effectively speak to the best interests of abused, neglected, dependent and vulnerable children in the DuPage County court system.

CASA’s vision is that every child deserves a safe, permanent, nurturing home.

Visit us at to learn more!
Manage your preferences | Opt out using TrueRemove®
Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
View this email online.
This email was sent to .
Continue receiving our emails, add us to your address book.
Subscribe to our email list.