Reprinted with permission from The Beverly Hills Courier. Story ran February 10, 2012
Inta and Richard Kipper of Bel-Air have been married for 40 years and raised four children together during that time. They share a bond that continues to provide each with love and joy every day. However, three years ago, during jury duty, Richard Kipper chanced across another way for them to share an experience while also helping a child along the way: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of Los Angeles.
Nonprofit CASA/LA works with the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services, advocating for children in the foster care system. The responsibilities are wide-ranging from attending court dates and working with the judge to representing the child’s educational interests. Oftentimes, a CASA is the most stable presence in a foster child’s life and for many foster children, the CASA volunteer is the only person not paid to care for them.
“While on jury duty, I saw an ad for CASA. It sounded interesting and since we were about to retire, we agreed to find out more about the program,” said Richard Kipper, a former tax lawyer and CPA.
“My wife was a retired high school teacher with extensive experience working with teenagers. With both of us having very different backgrounds, we could see ourselves far more effective together than acting alone.” The couple does everything together (i.e. speaking with social workers, caregivers, therapists, school officials, teachers, psychiatrists, and, of course, meeting with the CASA child for whom they hold educational rights. “After the various meetings we discuss what each of us heard and our respective reactions. Sometimes we agree completely but other times we disagree and have to find a middle ground which can be difficult and frustrating. But when we deal with our CASA child, we always try to be of one mind,” said Kipper. Because of his legal background, he prepares the court reports. Then his wife thoroughly edits them and the couple discusses the changes for the final report and recommendations.
“For me, being a CASA is an opportunity to help an at risk foster child. I wish every one of them could have a CASA,” said Kipper. “For my wife, being a CASA is an opportunity to stand by, support, encourage, advocate and care for, journey with, and be involved on behalf of a child who needs someone ‘in his or her corner’ to make a difference in their difficult life.”