Imagine being 6 years old and being separated from your parents because they’ve neglected or abused you.
They haven’t been the best caregivers but they’re the only caregivers you know. You’re placed in foster care, and you’re overwhelmed by your new circumstances — a little lost, plenty scared. Your voice seems lost amid the shuffle of paper work and the decision-making of adults unknown to you.
Enter the CASA volunteer.
Court-appointed special advocates exist to give children in foster care a voice. Advocates work with professionals and the courts to make sure children’s needs are being met. If children need speech therapy, or medical care, or counseling, Advocates take those needs to the court. The advocates ensure children are treated with dignity and respect. And there simply aren’t enough of them. Today, the CASA program in Beaver has just 7 volunteers, serving 35 kids. There are more kids to be served but more volunteers are needed.
Advocates are charged with gathering as much information as they can about the children’s needs and circumstances. They are independent fact-finders: They talk to teachers, biological parents, foster parents, social workers, health care providers. They review school, medical and caseworker reports. They write detailed reports for the judge. The advocates aren’t meant to be pals. There’s no gift-buying or socializing.
They have an even more meaningful role: They are unpaid adults who have committed to seeing children through the process of being in foster care.
The CASA volunteer who has committed to walking alongside the child may be the first adult who has kept a promise to the child. This takes some determination on the advocate’s part. This isn’t a role for the faint of heart. CASA advocates must undergo background screenings and an interview, and 30 hours of training. Beyond that, advocates generally spend about 10-15 hours a month on their cases. If you fit this description, contact the CASA program. The next training is in January, but it’s not too soon to get the initial paperwork and background checks underway.
Contact CASA 724 728-0359 or www.casabeavercounty.or. Make a difference in a child’s life!