Meet Laura Kootstra
As a registered nurse for over 25 years, Laura shares why she became an advocate and the challenges that she welcomes as rewards in the making.
Laura is a recent CASA graduate and sworn in May of 2019. Her desire to work with children in the foster care system was contagious, and she brought along her husband Brian whom we will meet in a future newsletter.
Laura, grew up in Modesto California, in a verbally abusive home. She and her sister with disabilities were raised by their single mother, who suffered from an addiction to alcohol. Despite any challenges as a youth, Laura is now a Senior Manager for a worker’s compensation company in which she supervises over thirty nurses in five states, including California. Laura has been married for over 30 years, with three children and three beautiful grandchildren. Laura’s desire to work with children in foster care brought her to the information table at a recent farm show in Hanford. She was looking to become a foster parent. However, after attending an Information Session with her husband, they found advocacy, as a means to, “meet in the middle,” and they both started the process to become advocates.
Laura and her husband share a case with two siblings. The reason for removal was due to allegations of abuse. Laura shared that the case has been challenging due to the parent’s resistance to work with CASA. Although the parent is aware of the work of the advocates they have canceled visitation, which has delayed Laura’s work.
During the initial introduction to the children, Laura found them to be very well mannered and polite. She shared that she is looking forward to establishing a rapport with the children and earning their trust. Laura shared that with a background of abuse, she brings empathy to the children. She stated, “as you know, empathy is not the same as sympathy. There a difference. I what they may be going through. I just don’t sorry for them.” Laura wants to help the children to accept or understand what has occurred so that they may make the personal changes necessary to help them move on and get where they need to be and ultimately make their own choices in life. CASA’s involvement, in this case, is critical as they are currently in family maintenance. A significant concern is that the parent will maintain a home that is safe for the children so that the abuse will not recur.
Laura’s advice to all current and future advocates is to “jump in, try it out and discover how rewarding it can be.” Even the challenges you may encounter can bring about a rewarding outcome.
What Laura likes best about CASA is the ability to make a difference.