Children In Crises Need Volunteers With Strong Hearts To See Them Through

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Children caught in the red tape and bureaucracy that accompanies a protective services investigation need a lifeline.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are that lifeline. But there are never enough volunteers to meet the ever-growing need.

Anyone can be a CASA. But not everyone has what it takes to be a CASA -- a parent's love for a child, a willingness and the stamina to investigate what is happening in a child's life, the ability to collect the information from that investigation and compile it in a comprehensive report for the courts that will decide the fate of the child. And finally, the ability to let go of that child as he moves past the storm of a Child Protective Services action.

It is a job that takes a tremendous commitment, but not one that will last forever. The CASA's average journey through the system with their appointed charge is from 12 to 18 months.

One active CASA describes it as "... a commitment where you see results, where you feel like you have actually done something, where your time is spent to help these children. If you don't do it, nobody else is going to ... It is extremely worthwhile."

The volunteers visit with their charges at least once a month, but if circumstances warrant it, visits can be as frequent as once a week. CASAs also meet with other people in the child's life: family, foster parents, teachers, counselors, lawyers, case workers, and so on.

The CASA does not decide what happens to a child in their charge, but by gathering as much information as possible on the child and his life, their report carries a lot of weight in the judge's ruling.

After passing a screening process, anyone, from all walks of life, can be a CASA. Training is provided. Support is always available.

To learn more about the CASA program, call (928) 474-7145 or contact Cecille Masters-Webb at cmasters-webb@courts.sp.state.az.us

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