Money worries have many people focusing on their checkbooks and losing sight of the world around them. Taking care of “my own” comes before everything else is why people aren’t aware of what’s happening in Cincinnati as a result of the economic downturn, according to Tracy Cook, executive director of ProKids.
“Part of that mentality, ‘I have to do what I have to do to survive personally to put my kids in the best position,’ has led to a culture of workaholics,” she says. “People investing as much as they can in 401ks, in college savings funds for their kids — all good things in a lot of way – but at the same time ... how’s that working for you now? Where’s your return on investment right this minute?
“If you are thinking about what you want to leave your children, the real legacy you want to leave them is a community that works better than the one that you found. That’s the return on the investment that I’m talking about.”
The hardest part about making a positive impact can be shifting an entrenched mindset.
“You can think, ‘I have to keep my nose to the grindstone and focus only on my family,’ ” Cooks says. “But the reality is if someone said to you today, ‘I have something that you could do today that would cause your child to be safer in our society, to live in a society that’s more likely to be thriving, and the bizarre thing is it’s investing in someone else’s child.’ That’s the investment we’re asking for.
“I understand people are overwhelmed. I understand that this may seem like a moment at which you can’t give another thing, but I’m not asking people to give, I’m asking them to invest.”
And ProKids is ready to show you how you can make a difference in the life of a child. There are hundreds of children in the custody of Hamilton County (see my news report, "Sacrificing Children"). Anyone can become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and help a child in the child welfare system get the best care possible until they are placed in a permanent, stable home.
“We can take a volunteer who knows nothing about the foster care system, child welfare or abuse and neglect, train them for 30 hours, provide them with a really experienced supervisor and they can have results that other program staff and professional simply can’t get to,” Cook says. “Caseworkers have sometimes anywhere between 60 and 100 kids that they’re working with. A CASA has two kids. They can have what we call porch-sitting time — a visit isn’t 15 minutes, it’s 90 minutes. They see the dynamics of how that family’s working. A CASA can sit with a therapist and say, ‘How is this child really doing in therapy?’ It’s transformational for the child.”
To learn more about becoming a CASA, visit www.prokidscasa.org or call 513-281-2000.