This August, we want to highlight and thank the incredible Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer, Susan Hinton, who goes the distance and truly SHOWS UP for foster youth. Get to know her beyond her advocacy.
July Advocate Spotlight: Susan Hinton, CASA Volunteer
Years of service with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley: 5 Years
Number of children served: 4 total
A Midwestern transplant, a former employee in Tech, and a self-identified “Fairly Odd Parent,” Susan Hinton currently resides in Santa Clara County, spending time honing her photography skills, learning more about plants, and advocating for foster youth.
Susan started her advocacy journey with the Bill Wilson Center as a Tutor but felt she had more to give. In 2017, Susan began to search on the internet for other ways to volunteer with children and youth. From her Google search, she stumbled upon Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. Almost five years later, Susan has advocated for three foster youth and is currently advocating for an out-of-county foster teen.
“When I started as a CASA Volunteer, it was like being one of the Fairly Odd Parents. You find something that inspires the kid and lean into it. That has worked well with my first three youths.” – Susan Hinton.
Susan is currently advocating for a foster teen who used to live within Santa Clara County but is now living with relatives out-of-county. Susan’s foster teen is someone who needs more in-person support and consistency. At the beginning of the case, Susan would visit twice a week with her foster teen then, when her teen moved, Susan drove two hours each way every other week. However, during the pandemic, connecting with her foster teen was difficult. With COVID-19 cases no longer spiking, Susan resumed driving to her foster teen again to meet and support her as she did pre-pandemic.
60% of our foster youth on our waitlist currently reside out of county and are waiting for a CASA Volunteer like Susan Hinton to be their Mentor, Advocate, and Voice. Out-of-county foster youth are youth whose case is in the Santa Clara County Dependency Court, but their placement (where they live) is in a different county. Out-of-county cases occur for several reasons; youth and young adults may be placed with relatives who live out of the county or may be transferred to available foster or group homes.
It is vital for out-of-county foster youth to have a CASA Volunteer like Susan Hinton because they face challenges such as moving to unfamiliar surroundings and not having a solid support system to help deal with those changes. A responsible adult role model can help foster youth navigate through these changes, while ensuring they receive the resources and services they deserve.
“The second you don’t understand something, start asking questions. Gain as much knowledge as possible to better support your foster youth.” – Susan Hinton.
As a CASA Volunteer, Susan tries to find resources and services for her teen’s county of residence. Susan uses her Voice to let the social worker know exactly what her foster teen’s needs and wants are. Although it is not ideal that they live 2 hours away from each other, they still find ways to meet and make it work.
“Be prepared to hang in there with the kid no matter what. These kids have adults who come and go in their lives, so having just one person who is a constant and consistent adult makes such a huge difference.” – Susan Hinton.
One of Susan’s favorite memories with her foster teen was when they went to San Francisco to visit the Exploratorium. This was her teen’s first time visiting San Francisco and exploring outside of her neighborhood. Her teen was in awe, seeing how vastly different San Francisco was from her neighborhood. Towards the end of their visit to the Exploratorium, Susan and her teen entered the gift shop, where the teen selected a juggling toy. Her teen was extraordinarily great with using the juggling toy causing a worker at the Exploratorium comment and praise her teen on how well she could juggle. The teen was taken aback because she had never before received a compliment from a stranger. She felt proud of herself and how well she could juggle, and the acknowledgment made her feel more confident in her abilities.
A CASA Volunteer is just an everyday community member who wants to impact a child’s life positively. As an agency, Child Advocates is committed to being there every step of the way, supporting and equipping CASA Volunteers with the training and resources they need to LIFT UP their foster child.
Fun Facts About Susan:
Favorite TV Show: Susan enjoys watching any tv show related to science fiction and mystery. Her current favorite tv show to watch is Orphan Black, which ironically includes topics of foster care.
Favorite Food/Dish: Susan’s favorite foods are anything spicy and French cuisines.
Favorite Place You’ve Traveled To: Susan’s favorite country to spend time in is Australia, and the country she would move to is France.
Favorite Hobbies: When Susan is not advocating for her foster youth, one can see her hiking at the Soberanes Canyon Trail bridge, taking photographs and getting involved with the California Native Plant Society and Loma Prieta Sierra Club’s Water Committee.
Best Advice: The best advice that Susan has received as of recently is, “Bring your most positive self professionally at all times for your CASA Kid.” – paraphrasing Charles D. Appelstein
Charles D. Appelstein was this year’s guest speaker for the CASA Summit. You can also read the recap of the CASA Summit here: https://childadvocatessv.org/2022/08/01/over-70-casas-gathered-for-casa-summit/.
We invite and look forward to our CASA Volunteers attending next year’s CASA Summit!
Support Out of County Foster Youth
This month, we ask you to SHOW UP and support the work we do alongside Susan to help LIFT UP our foster youth. Here are the many ways you can help:
- If you or anyone you know would be interested in becoming an Advocate for foster youth, sign up now!
- Invest in our foster youth by making a financial donation to support our CASA Program and the children we serve. View if your company offers a company match on Double the Donation.
- Become a Corporate Champion by sponsoring our fundraising events or one of the many activities we host for the children we serve. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how your company can be a part of the solution for foster kids.
- You can shop for specific items that our foster kids need, such as toys, school supplies, clothing, toiletries and more, by visiting our Amazon Charity List.