CASA of Gila County is urging community members to volunteer to become an advocate for a child who has experienced abuse and/or neglect.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are everyday people appointed by a local juvenile judge to advocate for the safety of children who have been removed from their home.
The need for volunteers continues to grow as abuse and neglect are reported more frequently when children return to school.
“Currently, only 1 in 25 children has a CASA volunteer in Gila County, with 149 children under the age of 18 waiting for someone like you," said Patti Dremler, CASA of Gila County coordinator.
As a child navigates the child welfare system, there are many adults that come in and out of their life. Children are often moved frequently throughout their time in foster care, which may lead to multiple foster parents, group home staff, teachers, therapists, etc. A CASA volunteer stays with a child throughout the length of the case being the consistent adult in their life.
Studies show children with a CASA volunteer receive more services that are critical to their well-being than children without an advocate, and those children are more likely to achieve educational success.
Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. No specific background or training is needed to become a CASA volunteer. Anyone 21 years of age or older, who can pass a thorough background check and complete 30 hours of free training, is encouraged to apply.
“73% of CASA volunteers in Gila County are female, so male volunteers are especially encouraged to apply,” Dremler said.
Virtual training sessions are offered to all CASA applicants in Arizona with multiple days and times to choose from that best fit the applicant’s schedule.