The importance of family and impacting early childhood early on is what drives Rosa Arevalo, Senior Program Coordinator for CASA of Los Angeles, to keep advocating for children and families every day. She believes that a child’s early years, from birth to age five, are vital in establishing a healthy, productive life and future. This belief and her long-time passion for early childhood underlies her work.
In her role, Rosa provides training and coaching to CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates), about the importance of early childhood education and how to advocate for infants and young children in the Los Angeles foster care system. As part of her coaching, Rosa helps every CASA create a plan for these young children to have the right resources ready for every area of their life.
In her own words, Rosa shares her work with CASAs and the rewards of impacting the complex foster care system as an early childhood advocate.
“We are direct advocates for the child, while indirectly advocating for birth parents as well. Every child that is separated from their primary caregiver, birth family or birth parent, suffers from some trauma. At CASA of LA, we make sure that each child gets a thorough assessment, which will help us strategize what the child will need for success in every area of their life. Our goal is to make sure that children have caring, consistent, loving caregivers when they are separated from their family. And when children are reunified with their birth parents again, we ensure that each parent and family gets the services they need to help them become a healthy caregiver again.
“I assist each CASA to connect with the main people in a foster child’s life–volunteers, attorneys, social workers, even judges–to help them understand the importance of shaping their early developmental years. I want every CASA to consider how their decisions–whether it’s translating difficult and troubling situations, navigating issues of trauma and separation, or speaking with families in Spanish–will ultimately affect the children and their families.” Our ultimate goal is to ensure the child has access to learning social and emotional skills to support their brain development.
“If we all start impacting a child’s life very early on, CASA volunteers and parents, we might not need as many resources or have as many challenges later on to impact a child.”
“For the parents and families that our CASA volunteers work with and advocate for, each parent or family has a total of 18 months to work through reunification with their birth children. Sometimes, parents take years to get to a stable enough point in their lives to be able to care for their children again. Resources are not always easily accessible for them to take advantage of. But it’s critical for our CASAs to advocate for parents and families, too, to make sure they have the cultural and linguistic services. In working with parents, CASAs are mostly making sure they understand what the court has ordered and what is required of them.
“I would consider myself a big advocate for impacting children as early on in their development as possible. My passion is early childhood. For the past 25 years, I’ve worked with child family providers to train them and make sure they give children every possible resource they need for a bright future.”