Casa Volunteers Help Children

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Editor:

Every year, more than 10,000 children languish in Arizona’s foster care system due to parental abuse or neglect. In Gila County there are currently 88 children in foster care. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is an advocacy organization that trains community volunteers to speak up for abused and neglected children in court. May is National Foster Care Month and the CASA program wants to educate our community about the role child advocates play in making a difference for children in foster care.

A CASA volunteer is appointed by a juvenile court judge to be the “eyes and ears of the court.” CASA volunteers work with foster children to make sure their best interests are being served within the child welfare system. CASA volunteers speak with parents, foster parents, Child Protective Services (CPS) workers, teachers, and more, to help provide valuable information to the judge about what is best for a child.

CASA programs have existed in Arizona since 1985 and the impact has been remarkable. To date, over 15,000 children have been served by volunteer advocates.

The CASA program is currently serving 1,200 children statewide, but thousands of children still need advocates to speak up for them in court. Budget cuts are drastically affecting the quality of services available to children in foster care and CASA volunteers are needed to help make sure that children are receiving appropriate care.

Many people want to support abused or neglected children, but are unsure how to help. You don’t have to be a child welfare professional or have a legal background to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. The CASA program is simply looking for responsible, caring adults who can commit to working with children in out-of-home care. National Foster Care Month is a great time to learn more about how you can help foster children in your community.

The CASA program provides training to prepare volunteers for their roles as child advocates and provides on-going support.

CASA is the only volunteer program that works within the court system to give foster children a voice.

Help spread awareness about the advocacy work CASA volunteers are doing to help displaced children. Find out more about CASA of Gila County by visiting azcasa.org or call (928) 474-7145.

Katrisha Stuler

CASA Manager

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