This month we shine our spotlight on Advocate Sac Carreathers!
Sac grew up in the inner city and worked hard to be as successful as he is today. While living in Los Angeles, he worked at a non-profit organization called Children’s Institute for about five years. Sac wrote grants for the organization to help protect Los Angeles’s abused and neglected children. While working at Children’s Institute, Sac saw how the foster care system works and how disruptive placements can be for children in foster care. His experience helped him understand the challenges foster care children face, which motivated him to become a volunteer at CASA.
When Sac’s case supervisor, April, informed him about a potential match, he was excited to start his journey as a CASA. Sac was paired with a 16-year-old boy named *Luke. Luke and his siblings were removed from their home due to physical and sexual abuse allegations. Luke has been involved with the foster care system for about nine years. Since coming into care, he has moved from placement to placement and never had a place to call home. Whenever he started to like his placement and feel comfortable with staff, he would have to move again.
When Sac met Luke for the first time at his group home, Luke did not open up to him. He was used to people coming in and out of his life, so it was not easy for him to trust people. Sac consistently showed up for Luke; and, after about six months, Luke finally started to open up and go on outings with him.
Sac tried to expose Luke to new experiences as much as possible. Luke was fearful of experiences he had never tried before. For example, Luke was afraid of the ocean and boats because he knew he could drown. Once Sac encouraged him to go on a boat for the first time to Catalina, Luke hesitantly agreed to do so and then loved every minute of it. All he needed was a little encouragement and someone to show him that it is okay to step out of your comfort zone from time to time.
The first piece of advocacy work Sac focused on was Luke’s education. Luke often refused to go to school; and, when he did go to school, he was easily distracted in class. He recently started high school, yet his academic levels were at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. He was anxious and disruptive in class- “he just felt lost in high school” Sac says. He soon moved to a different high school where the classes were much smaller and a better fit for Luke. Luke will do some of his homework now, but his grades are still below average. It is hard for him to concentrate on school work in and out of the classroom, which makes it difficult for him to learn the material. The most challenging part about being Luke’s CASA is watching him struggle in school when Sac knows how smart he is. “He has so much potential, but his barriers get in the way” Sac says. As Luke’s educational rights holder, Sac continuously supports him in his academics. He pushes him because he knows he is smart and capable of doing the work, but sometimes Sac wonders if he is making a difference. There are ups and downs with Luke, but Sac knows that he has to keep trying with him and supporting him no matter what.
The greatest success for Sac so far has been the bond he has formed with Luke. He has been Luke’s CASA for two years now and they are able to talk about pretty much everything from relationships and school to cultural awareness and his role as a young man. As Luke gets older, it is harder for social services to find him a foster home. Luckily, Luke will always have Sac by his side, no matter what happens.
Sac’s best advice to other CASAs is to be patient and a good listener. Sometimes these kids say something aloud to you, but it can mean something totally different. You must read between the lines to figure out what they are reall trying to tell you.
Sac’s Case Supervisor, April Allton, shares this about him: “Sac joined the CASA family 2 years ago and the role just clicked for him right from the beginning. He has an immense amount of knowledge and tenacity which he has fully brought to his role as a CASA and has been a fearless advocate for his youth. When it was needed, he stepped above the role of a CASA and also became the educational rights holder for his youth. Although his youth continues to struggle, Sac goes above and beyond to ensure his youth has every possible tool for success. Thank you, Sac for being a wonderful advocate!”
*Name changed to protect confidentiality