Our CASA volunteers make a commitment to work with children in the foster care system, serving as advocates and mentors. This is hard work that comes with inherent challenges. The primary challenge is how to build trust with children who have become distrustful of adults, children who have not always had reasons to trust that adults will come through for them.
That is why we at CASA of San Mateo County works hard to prepare and support our volunteers for the basic task of building trust with children who have experienced multiple traumas in their lives. Luckily, we tend to attract volunteers who have the emotional intelligence and relationship skills necessary to do this work well. While many, but not all, of the children we serve have processed their traumas in a way that has led to difficulty trusting adults, the blog post below, intended for educators, is a great reminder of why children from the most difficult backgrounds put up the greatest barriers to interpersonal connection. These two citations from the post are particularly good reminders:
The behavior of relationship-resistant youth is functional and purposeful. In other words, the young person is trying to accomplish something and the adult’s challenge is to detect what that might be (Anderson & Seita, 2005).
Problem behavior is often a means of coping with a world filled with danger, abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Seen in that light, problems can be a sign of health, energy, self-preservation, and self-determination. ( Seita, 2005)