A little over a year ago, Thad Crawford attended CASA of Northwest Arkansas’s Light of Hope breakfast. The timing couldn’t have been better. Having grown up in a loving Fort Smith family who always had an open door policy for those less fortunate, Thad knew he wanted to do something to help the children in foster care. With four children of their own at home, he and his wife had been considering opening their home as a foster family. But, after learning about CASA, Thad heard a different calling. A few months later, he was sworn in as a CASA advocate. And, we are a stronger program because of it.
Not every rookie wants a case with four children, but a large family didn’t scare this dad of four. In the year since taking his case, Thad has learned a lot – about the foster care system, the undue burden older children face when they must parent their parents and care for their siblings, the impact of drug abuse on families, and how strong children really are amid the most difficult of circumstances. Thad looks up to the oldest child in this case as she shows a maturity well beyond her years. “These kids are amazing people. They have gone through so much. What they have taught me has made me a better dad and husband,” Thad shared.
Balancing a full-time job and a family, you would think Thad sees time as his biggest challenge in serving as an advocate. But, he said that’s what surprised him the most. It doesn’t take a long time to build a relationship with a child in need. It takes compassion and commitment, yes, but this can be accomplished in frequent, short periods of time. What Thad sees as the hardest part of serving is staying objective, not just wanting to fight. He knows he has to put the children’s best interests ahead of his emotions. And, that hasn’t been easy. But, it’s worth it . . . to the kids and to him.