A Van Buren couple who recently adopted three young children are looking forward to utilizing their knowledge of the foster care system as advocates for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Crawford County.
Chris and Robin Cooper, along with Danita McEntire of Alma, were sworn in as CASA volunteers by Judge Mike Medlock on July 6.
The Coopers began fostering in October 2014.
“We were faced with fertility issues and knew about kids who needed homes so we went into fostering,” Robin Cooper recalls.
Chris and Robin never had a child they fostered go home and on Dec. 15, 2015, adopted Lane, now 3; Logan, 2; and Landon, 1.
Two days after the Coopers were approved as foster parents, they took in Lane; then Logan, who was seven months old, six weeks later. Finally, Chris and Robin brought Landon into their homes two days after he was born.
“Lane’s biological mother had another baby (Landon) and she tested positive for drugs so we brought him home from the hospital,” Robin said.
Prior to the adoption, Chris said the only consistent person during their time with the Department of Human Services was the CASA volunteer.
“Socials workers were in and out … supervisors were in and out,” he said.
Robin said, “Kids get lost in the system if they don’t have that one person who is consistent for them … and for most that is the CASA volunteer.”
The Coopers considered fostering more children. However, DHS considered their home “full,” so they turned to the opportunity to be volunteers for CASA.
“We knew there was a need for volunteers to advocate for the children,” Chris said. “Since we could no longer be foster parents, we decided to volunteer for CASA as a team doing one case as a couple.”
Executive director Celeste Lewis said CASA of Crawford County is excited that Robin and Chris have become CASA volunteers.
“They understand how overwhelmed the foster care system is and having served as foster parents, they will be able to assist foster parents with needs being met as well as for the child,” Lewis said. “Sometimes it’s just connecting the dots for resources for foster parents or having someone to say, ‘I’ll see if I can get a hold of someone to assist you.’”
The Coopers will have that insight, Lewis said.
“They realize the value of a CASA volunteer as previous foster parents,” she said. “They knew their CASA volunteer would visit and check on the needs of the children. Having seen first hand what a CASA does they decided that they would someday become CASA volunteers too. We are glad they decided now is the time.”
Chris works at the 188th Wing and attends the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. Robin is employed at Dayspring Behavioral Health. The couple will have been married nine years on Aug. 2.
On a recent vacation to Orange Beach, Ala., several thought Robin and Chris had triplet boys.
“It is organized chaos,” Robin said.
“More chaos than organized,” Chris countered.