NewsLocal News

Actions

Mother of 7 helps Kansas children navigate court system

'We want to make sure their best interests are represented'
mom of 7 overland park.png
Posted at 4:40 PM, May 14, 2023

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Natalie Julien has filled her Overland Park home with seven children, ranging in age from 10 to 23. While she plans to spend Mother’s Day celebrating their bond, her mind is also outside her home.

 “I think this weekend is a lot about family and making sure I have time to focus on my kids,” Julien said. “But I can’t forget the fact that there are a lot of children who are still not able to have that kind of support system in place.”

 Julien is the president and CEO of CASA in Johnson and Wyandotte counties. CASA stands for court-appointed special advocates.

The nonprofit pairs adults with children as they navigate the legal system after abuse or neglect.

 “Every single one of us wants to be that person who lets the child we [are] serving know we care about what happens to them,” Julien said. “We want to make sure their best interests are represented.”

 In Johnson and Wyandotte counties, there are 1,000 kids who could use CASA’s help. With the organization's current number of volunteers, CASA is only able to serve 43% of those children.

 “The positive influence the volunteers have on the children is a really big deal,” Julien said. “They have been through so much trauma, so much change and upheaval. Having that one consistent person who is giving themselves and available when a child needs them, that’s a really big deal.”

Julien's children, who also have a heart for service, recognize why they share their mom with so many.

 “They understand how important it is — the work we do at CASA and why it’s not always a 9-5 job,” she said. “Sometimes there’s nights and weekends [where] things need to be done because the work we do is important.”

While each case is different, a CASA volunteer typically spends about 10 flexible hours a month meeting with the child, speaking with others involved, and attending meetings or court hearings.

To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, visit casakc.org or call 913-715-4040.