Janet Stoddard has been advocating in the court system for child victims of abuse and neglect for more than 20 years, starting in Nevada where she lived while raising her two daughters.
The California native found herself helping at her kids’ schools, teaching Kindermusik, leading Girl Scouts, volunteering with the American Red Cross and Special Olympics, and using horses to work with children on the autism spectrum.
“Until I had children of my own, I steered clear of kids I think because my own childhood was a daily traumatic struggle to survive home life and function at school the next day,” she said. “But my own children soon taught me patience and that I’m capable… and I started to realize that despite what happened to me growing up, I’m a survivor, I’m strong, and I have a lot to give.”
This realization is what first led her to become a CASA in 1997. She’s now had dozens of cases and was also a foster parent to a teenager girl who is now 27. Janet says she can’t imagine life with this work.
“I knew I found my calling when I accepted my first case,” she said. “…So many of us in the ‘helping’ professions come to this work with life experiences that may have broken us down and eventually empowered us to rise and speak up for ourselves and others. They say children are resilient and really need just one significant person in their life to be there to encourage and support them. A CASA volunteer is that one person and so much more.”
Once Janet’s daughters were grown, she was ready for a new adventure and knew that if she could work for CASA, it would be a dream job. So she began using her degrees in law and human services, along with two decades of helping kids, to land this dream job.
The search brought her to CASA of the Pikes Peak Region in 2013 as a D&N Case Supervisor, and this year she transitioned to Teller County Program Manager. Janet is now overseeing CASA’s Teller County program from a new office that opened this year in Divide. (Check out the article in the Pikes Peak Courier here.)
Currently, CASA has nine Court Appointed Special Advocates working cases in Teller County, as well as a family visitation area at the Divide office for CASA’s Supervised Exchange & Parenting Time (SEPT) program.
“Having our new office in Teller County allows us to effectively serve more children throughout the Pikes Peak region,” Janet said. “Teller County is growing and we’re now better positioned to proactively respond to the critical needs of children entering the child welfare system through our advocacy program, as well as to children who need a safe place to visit a parent through our SEPT program. Our new office space can fulfill these needs and solidifies our presence in Teller County as we extend our reach toward helping every kid in need by the year 2020.”
When she’s not at the office in Divide or advocating for kids at the courthouse in Cripple Creek, Janet is enjoying her Woodland Park lifestyle and you can often find her on the hiking or snowshoeing trails with her beloved Karelian Bear Dog.
Janet loves her Teller County community and she knows how important it is for people to give back in their own communities.
“The rewards are plentiful, both for the volunteers who want to feel they’ve made a meaningful difference and for the children whose lives they’ve impacted. Communities come together and thrive when people step forward to enrich the lives of others.”
If you live in Teller County and would like to make a positive difference in the life of a child in your own community, give Janet a call! You can reach her at 719-286-0846