Gina Hauptli is passionate about advocating for neglected and abused children in Elkhart County. “I wanted to work where I could have a direct impact on a child’s situation and do something to make it better.”
Helping others has always been Gina’s passion. “I started in high school, doing home health care with elderly people. I did that for several years, but after two of my clients passed away, I decided I needed a change, needed to be around life – so I switched to working with children and families.”
Gina started at CAPS in 2003, working with the Healthy Families program as a home visitor. She served in Healthy Families for five years before being recruited by the CASA program director to make a change. “I was asked to consider an open CASA program assistant position and I said no way! But then I did some shadowing and realized I could be the voice for a child if I joined CASA.”
Gina has been all in ever since, and at one point reached a high of involvement with over 60 kids at once. “At that time we had kids on a wait list for the program, so we would monitor their situation, but they weren’t on anyone’s caseload yet. I’ve worked with children of all ages, but my heart is really with teens and kids with juvenile delinquency cases.”
She says it is powerful to see families reunified. “When that happens, I tell the court at the close of the case how proud I am of the family, how I’ve sometimes doubted that we could get here, but this is what we want to see.” Gina admits that sometimes biological parents can’t get past their struggles. In those cases, a CASA advocate works to help the child be placed in a stable, nurturing home. “Adoption days are the best, helping a child find their forever home.”
Gina’s work and personal life have merged in some surprising ways. Six years ago, while attending a conference in Texas, she participated in a workshop on facility dogs as emotional support for kids in the courtroom. “I immediately thought, this is what I want to do!” She brought the idea back and with director approval began the rigorous process of applying, interviewing and training with Canine Companions, Inc. All the work paid off when Gina was matched with Burke, a Golden Labrador who has been a great success with CASA kids.
Her experiences advocating for children took another personal turn when she was recently awarded full-time guardianship of David, an 11-year-old boy with autism. David’s father Greg was Gina’s partner prior to his passing away November of 2020 due to a heart condition. “I’m juggling being a full-time mom with my responsibilities as CASA Coordinator. It’s a challenge, but I’ve been very thankful for the flexibility and support I’ve received from CAPS.”
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