For many of us Valentine’s Day is our chance to show our affection for the important people in our lives through cards, flowers and other gifts. But candy and cards will be the last thing on the minds of many of the children in the foster care system who will be facing this special day far away from their friends, families and other loved ones.

When a family is in crisis and a child is placed in the child welfare system, they often live in a foster home far away from their home community. Though they have done nothing to deserve it, they face challenges and unforeseen consequences as the result of being in foster care. They tend to move from placement to placement and school to school – running the risk of losing touch with the friends, mentors, family and other loved ones in their lives.

Volunteers with CASA in the Heart of Texas advocate for these children to ensure they are safe and cared for and work hard to keep them connected with their communities, families and loved ones while they are in foster care and beyond.

“Studies show that one of the key indicators for child well-being is the number of committed adults in their lives,” said Michelle Wells, Executive Director of CASA in the Heart of Texas. “In addition to speaking up for children’s best interests in court, our CASA volunteers can play an integral part in making sure they maintain positive relationships with their families, friends, mentors and home communities in whatever ways possible.”

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers are everyday people who are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child or sibling group in the foster care system. CASA in the Heart of Texas is one of the CASA programs in Texas that recruits, screens and trains these volunteers.

“Foster care can be scary, lonely and uncertain for children, especially when they are placed far away from everything and everyone they know,” said Wells. “CASA volunteers advocate for these children in court, school and other settings, building a positive relationship with them, helping to keep them connected and reminding them that they are not alone.”

CASA volunteers get to know the child on a personal level and communicate with everyone involved in their life, including family members, foster parents, social workers and others. They work with the child’s caseworker and others on the case to build and strengthen a lifetime network of family and other committed adults who will support the child and each other even after the child’s time in foster care ends.

“CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for reunification with the child’s family of origin, with the child’s safety as the first priority,” said Wells. “When reunification is not safe or possible, they work vigorously to place the child with other family or in a caring adoptive home.”

“Every child deserves to feel loved, supported and connected this Valentine’s Day and beyond,” said Joanne McCraw, Recruiter/Trainer for CASA in the Heart of Texas. “Become a CASA volunteer and help give a child and family a better chance at a brighter, happier future.”

For more information, visit www.BecomeaCASA.org or www.CASAbrownwood.org or call 325-643-2557 to speak with local CASA staff. The next CASA 101: Information Session will be at 6:00 PM, March 3, 2020 at 901 Avenue B (Community Connections of Central Texas Bldg.) in Brownwood.