Joseph Adetayo preaches the value of education to young people.
He’s done so for decades. First as the immigrant father of his three daughters, then as the foster parent of six children, and now as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for a young man getting ready to age out of foster care.
“With an education, you can go anywhere,” Joseph said. “With an education, you can do just about anything.”
While about half of foster children nationwide drop out of high school, all of those who Joseph has mentored have graduated, with a couple having gone on to college.
“I’m proud of all of them,” he said.
A native of Nigeria and retired software engineer, Joseph, 70, has been a CASA volunteer for about a decade. He and his wife, Patricia, earlier served for about 10 years as foster parents.
“I want to give back,” he said in explaining why he stepped up and served.
“Children need someone to love them,” he said. “They need someone to listen to them. They need someone to hear them out.”
Joseph’s foster youth has been in care for about seven years. He is the father of a baby girl who lives with her mother. Although he is unsure where his future will lead him, with Joseph at his side, he intends to keep learning and succeed.
CASA volunteers are overwhelmingly women, making Joseph a valued rarity.
“Joseph has been a father figure for his youth,” said Jeanmarie Albert, Joseph’s Case Supervisor. “They have a great relationship. They talk with each other. They listen to each other.”
Joseph’s youth recently aged out of foster care when he turned 21. Joseph plans to remain in his life, offering him guidance and help.
“I want him to have a future,” Joseph said.
“Joseph is an ideal CASA,” said Ann Marie Binsner, Executive Director of CASA/Prince George’s County. “He cares about his youth, and his youth knows it.”