April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and CASA in the Heart of Texas is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA volunteers, and help break the cycle of abuse and neglect, through supporting children and families.
CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are everyday people from all walks of life who are recruited and specially trained to advocate for children in foster care and provide a consistent, reliable adult presence for them during a difficult time in their life.
“Our volunteers’ first priority is to keep families together whenever safe and possible,” said Michelle Wells, Executive Director of CASA in the Heart of Texas. “Foster care is only a temporary solution to the problems at hand. We need to create long term support networks that work to care for families, make reunification a possibility, and help break the cycle for the next generation.”
CASA volunteers are typically assigned to one child or sibling group to advocate for their best interest in court, in school and in other settings. They get to know the child and everyone involved in their life, such as parents and other family members, foster parents, therapists, caseworkers and teachers, in order to develop a realistic picture of the child’s unique situation.
They engage those important to the child and family in order to build a network of support around them, so that the family has access to support and resources after CASA and CPS involvement has ended. They make recommendations to the judge overseeing the child’s case, with the goal of ensuring that the child is safe and the family has the resources, support and healthy relationships needed to heal. The consistency of the relationships of our volunteers and children are even more critical during these times of limited social interaction.
Locally, CASA in the Heart of Texas served 99 children in the foster care system in Brown, Comanche, and Mills counties during fiscal year 2019, which means there were 226 children who still needed someone to advocate for them. This April, consider stepping up to make a difference by becoming a CASA volunteer.
“There is still a great need for CASA volunteers,” said Joanne McCraw, Recruiter/Trainer. “By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can take your efforts beyond just awareness and do your part to help support children and families right here in our community.”