This month we shine our spotlight on Advocate Simone LeCompte!
Because of her own less than ideal childhood, Simone knew that she wanted to volunteer within the foster care system. While seeking where to invest her time and heart, she found CASA as the organization that stood out above others. Feeling both excited and terrified at the same time about becoming a CASA, Simone thought long and hard about it for about 10 months, but she felt CASA pulling and pulling at her heart, until she finally said yes. She thought how great it would have been for her to have had a CASA when she was a child, someone in her corner looking out for her.
One year later, Simone still feels excited and considers herself a “baby CASA.” She feels that she is still in a learning phase of the system, but she is learning on her feet. When asked about her advocacy style, she said, “slow and steady” which reveals Simone’s humble attitude toward her CASA role. Simone wants to get it right, so she takes the time to understand the upheaval her CASA youth is going through. She is keenly aware that our CASA kids have huge walls up, but Simone’s relationship building skills and her slow and steady approach have served her well as she grows into her CASA role.
Simone shares that *Laura, her CASA youth, is 12 years old and a fantastic kid who loves to talk. Simone also shares that Laura is fun, outgoing, and a ball or energy. When they first met, they quickly bonded, but just at a certain level. Simone wisely says that time and consistency will be what will take to achieve a deeper level in their relationship. In her one year with Laura, the biggest piece of advocacy has been finding an appropriate placement for Laura, which has taken a year to accomplish. Simone admits struggling when watching Laura’s mental health deteriorate to the point of needing to be hospitalized. Just keeping track of Laura’s whereabouts is difficult. But Simone’s mission is to help everyone to get to know the real Laura and not be led just by what the file says about her. Simone intentionally spends a lot of time telling the team of professionals what an amazing kid Laura is. Simone knows that Laura can be difficult, but her goal is to show another side of Laura to others. She says that she often encourages the team to “wait and see” the great kid Laura can be.
What asked to share a success she has had on this case, Simone shares a time when she helped Laura reduce absconding behaviors. In collaboration with Laura’s teacher, she learned how to talk to Laura about dealing with anger instead of absconding. Simone’s “slow and steady” style is showcased in her approach to this issue. She encouraged Laura to try baby steps to improve with the goal to avoid absconding for a week. Being in touch with the teacher, Simone knew that Laura had not absconded in a week, but she wanted to hear it from Laura herself so she could praise her and help her see that she had it in her to change certain behaviors. The next step was to try to go a whole month without absconding which Laura successfully accomplished. This showed Simone that what Laura needs is the right environment and positive encouragement to help her fulfill her full potential.
With thoughtfulness, Simone reflects that “consistency plus time” is the important thing to remember about being a CASA and the key to achieving trust. She says that once you break the trust barrier, you start to see the fruit of your labor, even if in small ways. Simone wants to remind others that “It’s never, ever, ever, about you, but about your CASA youth.” She also shares from experience that there will be times when feelings are hurt, but CASAs always need to remember that they are there to help. For Simone, her favorite thing about being a CASA is the idea that she can have a positive impact on someone’s life during difficult times. On the other hand, her least favorite thing about being a CASA is not being able to see her kiddo, especially during COVID-19.
As a parent, Simone takes seriously the responsibility of being a good role model for her children. She does not want to just tell them about being a positive member of society, but also wants to model this role for them. She wants her kids to see their mom giving out and putting into action the things she talks about. As a CASA, Simone really loves Laura and feels that they teach each other life lessons. Simone’s sincere concern for the outcome of foster kids in terms of homelessness, incarceration, lack of permanency, low graduation rates, etc. is what fuels her desire to create change. Being a CASA is a step in the right direction.
During COVID times, Simone encourages herself knowing that this season is not forever. Instead, she looks to the future with hope and says that five years down the road, this will be a blip in the history of her relationship with Laura and that they will be stronger on the other side of this season. Simone strongly believes that going through tough times together will help build trust more and more. It truly requires consistency plus time to be the slow and steady type, which Simone beautifully embodies.
Simone’s case supervisor, Steph Bazurto, shares this about her: “Simone LeCompte has been a CASA for just over one year. When I first became acquainted with Simone during core training, my first observation was that Simone sat at the front of the class, every session. I recognized the deep attention she was giving to learning about becoming a CASA. I then had the privilege of interviewing Simone, and that's where I confirmed she was deeply interested in being a child's special someone. When I was assigned to supervise Simone through her CASA journey, I was instantly excited for the difference I knew she would make in a child's life. Simone connected with her youth quickly. From day one with her youth, Simone has shown dedication, commitment, and consistency. Her case has not been the easiest, yet through it all, my favorite thing about Simone is her willingness to remain child focused and committed. Simone has been a very important part of her youth's team. Simone's youth has identified her as an important person in her life. Simone is a great mentor and is always ready and willing to advocate for her youth. I deeply admire Simone's desire to always represent the best interest of her CASA youth.”
*Name changed for confidentiality reasons