Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are volunteers who advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The Clark County CASA Program has 130 volunteers taking on this demanding and rewarding role and Bill Cline is one of those amazing volunteers.
As a boy, Bill Cline enjoyed many youth activities where adult volunteers played important roles. “I got to do a bunch of stuff, like Little League and Cub Scouts, because of the adults who volunteered their time,” he said. Later, when as an adult he became a firefighter with Clark County, the value of community service was reinforced for Cline.
“I think that’s why, when I was asked to volunteer for CASA, I said ‘yes’ without hesitation.”
CASAs assume considerable responsibility. Their training is emotionally demanding and ongoing. Once assigned to a case, they advocate for children who are involved in the legal system due to abuse or neglect. When a child is removed from their home and placed into the child welfare system, the courts assign the CASA Program to represent their best interests.
CASAs walk a fine line with their “kids.” They are neither lawyers nor social workers. Instead, they seek a balance so that the child’s welfare–in the home, at school, in the community–is foremost in their actions. They regularly report to the court on progress at home and school.
Cline has advocated for 24 children as a CASA over the past four years, and was a constant presence in the lives of those children and their families. “The kids know I will always be there for them, as long as they are in the system,” he said.
Cline and his late wife raised four children in Vancouver, as well as assorted dogs and cats, and his CASA role puts his parenting skills to good use. He understands that children need more than safety and stability–they need an adult who’s looking out for them without being judgmental. He sometimes has to make some difficult recommendations about family placement to the court. But his guiding principle is to make sure his recommendations serve the child’s best interests.
“Bill is incredibly dedicated to the children on his caseload and personally connects with each of them to get to know them and understand their needs.”
“To do this kind of work, you have to be ready for some ups and downs,” he said. “You can have everything going wonderfully well, then one day you wake up and find it’s gone south really fast.”
But the good days make it all worthwhile for the retired firefighter. “You can never give up on a kid,” he says. “Despite what they may have experienced, they are incredibly resilient if you give them the support they need.”
There are children in our community who need a CASA right now. Find out how you can volunteer or support the Clark County CASA Program on our website at casaclarkcounty.org or follow us on Facebook or Instagram. Clark County CASA is a program of YWCA Clark County.