Married couple, Katie and Levi Gill became volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates together in the summer of 2019. Leading up to that time, they both knew they wanted to get involved with a program benefiting kids, and had seen a lot of the advertising around town about CASA. Katie and Levi have a young family of their own, and Levi works out of state seasonally, so they decided to become CASAs as a team.
Working together as CASAs allowed them to take on cases together so they could share the workload of balancing their own family, while also volunteering in service to an important cause. Now, as active Advocates, there are times when Katie and Levi go to visits with their kids together, but there are other times where they go separately—allowing them to each stay involved and engaged even with their unique circumstances. Katie and Levi said working together as a couple has been very effective, in part because they take the time to share information that each gathers on the case, help one another stay up to speed on the details, and collaborate on writing their reports.
Over the course of their two years as CASAs, Katie and Levi have worked with three kids in foster care. Their first case featured a mother and son, both in foster care at the same time. The mother has since aged out, but they continue to work with the little boy on the case, and they are excited to see him be adopted into a loving family. The Gills also served another teenager who aged out of foster care. Though they aren’t officially her CASAs anymore, Katie and Levi have stayed in contact with her and continue to be a resource for her as a young adult.
Katie stated that they have had a greater impact in some areas more than others. For the young boy they have been advocating for, the Gills feel like he and his foster family have become part of their own family. They go over for pizza parties, meet up with him and his foster family for movies, and genuinely love spending time together. Although the little boy is still quite young, Katie thinks he sees them as part of his family and loves them as well.
Time with the teens on their cases was more limited as the kids approached aging out of foster care. The Gills acknowledged that with these older kids, it was important to set boundaries and work through decisions with them for their future, helping them to transition into adulthood and take care of themselves. Katie said that working with kids is by far the best part of being a CASA. “All of these children and young adults have been amazing people that are working through difficult situations, and it’s been amazing to watch them grow,” she said. “The most gratifying moment to me in my CASA experience was when I got to make a phone call to a foster mom to tell her she was going to get to adopt her foster son.”
Outside of their important work with the children they serve as CASAs, Katie and Levi love spending time with their two young sons. Katie enjoys getting outside and skiing, going to the lake, or getting to the mountains with their kids. Levi is a commercial fisherman in Alaska and Utah, and enjoys skiing, woodworking, and hunting.
The Gills said the most important thing is to always cherish and celebrate the small victories. “There are a lot of tough things that you are exposed to and that you witness as a CASA,” Katie said. “It can be frustrating and discouraging at times. But when you get those little victories, however big or small they might be, those are the moments that make the work and effort worthwhile.”
The Gills’ advice to anyone starting out as a CASA is to remember that “patience and follow up are key. Things can move slowly, and things can fall through the cracks. Don’t be afraid to follow up and follow up again.”
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve finally got an answer because we were persistent and didn’t let things go,” Katie said. “Advocate for what you know is right for the kids. Not everyone may agree with your stance, but remember that it’s about the kids and their best interest.”