Nan Booth, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), helped persuade a judge in 2014 to remove a boy from a foster home that she deemed as unfit. A year later, she returned and successfully argued, along with the Department of Social Services, that the boy should be moved again.
Nan – short for Nancy – is pleased with these courtroom victories that resulted in the boy finally being placed in a good home. But she sounds even more proud of what that the boy says about her: “Ms. Nancy taught me to read.”
“I don’t think I actually taught him how to read, but I did teach him how to love reading,” said Nan, who began the infatuation by introducing him a few years back to “Archie” comic books.
With that love of reading, the boy, now 11, is doing well in fifth grade – still reading “Archie” comic books as well as hardcover books – and is already talking about going to college.
“He says he wants to be a scientist,” said Nan.
Nan and her husband had been foster parents before she became a CASA in 2013. She did so after she retired as a social scientist at the University of Maryland and after her husband died.
“I wanted to do something of substance,” she said. “And I was impressed by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates/Prince George’s County). They are serious.”
Nan was assigned to the little boy, now in his third foster home.
“I’ve been the constant in his life,” she said.
“All in all, he’s doing quite well,” she said. “He has his moments. But I know where he was and where he now is. He doing a lot better than a few years ago. He smiles a lot more. He’s a hoot.”
Nan encourages others to consider becoming a CASA.
“If you love children, and have the time, I can’t think of a better volunteer experience,” said Nan. “You will have the opportunity to improve a child’s life through your advocacy for them in court,” making sure that they are safe and secure.
Outside of court, and “equally important,” she said, “you will have a journey with the child during some difficult times,” such as by helping them to survive and even thrive in school by becoming a strong reader, a key to successful life.
“What can be more important than that?” Nan said.