Loyal, dependable, unwavering—these are just a few adjectives that describe CASA volunteer Lesley Knappen. Lesley has been assigned to her child since October of 2022, and this male teen certainly needs someone like Lesley in his life! His parents gave up their parental duties which led to their rights being terminated. Unless he is adopted, the state will become his “parent” until he is 18, and possibly beyond that milestone.

In the last year and a half, this teen has been placed in a residential treatment center, in juvenile detention, and a hospital twice. Additionally, on a couple of occasions he had no placement. He is currently serving a sentence in a TJJD facility. Though this is heart-wrenching, there is a ray of hope in the form of his CASA volunteer. With each move, Lesley was there to visit him within days. She calls him at least every week, and regardless of the distance, Lesley visits him at least once a month. Due to the distance of his placement, policy would allow for Lesley to visit quarterly, but this advocate is quick to say that she will not permit that much time to pass without a face-to-face visit. She understands that she is his one and only constant, and she takes that responsibility seriously. Lesley ensures that this young man’s needs are being met. She is a fierce advocate regarding his medical, educational, and mental health essentials. She attends important educational meetings, CPS court, and even juvenile court. She is determined that he is not just another number in the system and never treats him as such. At a recent court hearing, a CPS caseworker was asked on the stand to tell the Court who knew this case and this child the best. Without hesitation, she responded, “His CASA advocate.” Truer words were never spoken, and they sum up perfectly the crucial role that CASAs play in a child’s life.