Updated: Aug 4, 2020
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and SOS CASA of the Flint Hills is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA volunteers) to help break the cycle of abuse and neglect through supporting children and families.
CASA volunteers are everyday people from all walks of life who are 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. One thing all CASAs have in common is their relentless dedication to children who need them.
CASA volunteers are assigned to one child or sibling group to advocate for their best interest in court, in school and in other settings. Most of the children served by CASA are in foster care due to abuse or neglect. The CASA gets 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 DCF 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.
Last year, 44 CASA volunteers served 99 children in the foster care system in Lyon and Chase counties, but many more children still need a volunteer to advocate for their best interests. This April, consider stepping up to make a difference by becoming a CASA volunteer.
Certain types of cases are significantly more likely to receive CASA services, including children in larger sibling groups, children who experience more types of maltreatment leading to removal, and children who do not have family options. Additionally, children whose family has a higher number of caregiver risk factors, more prior CPS investigations, and children whose homes show indications of past or current domestic violence, are more likely to be appointed a CASA.
When faced with the toughest cases, judges call upon CASA, knowing CASA volunteers are dedicated and well-trained to take on any challenge. Their determination creates a lasting impact in the lives of children.
By acting as the eyes and ears for the courts and providing key insight on the unique needs of children to keep them from slipping through the cracks, CASA volunteers are actively a part of the solution. These dedicated volunteers work to move the children they serve out of the system and into safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. Their role not only impacts the children they serve, but ultimately helps to break the cycle of abuse and neglect for the next generation.
National Volunteer Appreciation week is April 19-25. SOS CASA of the Flint Hills is honored to recognize CASA volunteers past and present who have stepped up and used their voice as a powerful tool of advocacy for children. Help celebrate the CASA volunteers’ tireless efforts in advocating for our most vulnerable abused and neglected children. Help us recognize these volunteers who refuse to sit back and hope for a day when our overburdened system is no longer an issue but are instead stepping up to help build a better life for the child today.
Thank you, CASA volunteers, and all the other volunteers in our community who offer their time and talents to make our communities safer, healthier, and stronger. The issues facing our child welfare system cannot be fixed overnight, and while progress is happening, too many children are stuck in the system without a CASA volunteer advocating for their best interest. Every child deserves a chance at a bright future, and you can be that chance by becoming a CASA volunteer.
SOS CASA of the Flint Hills is currently accepting applications. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and are regularly providing updates and resources to help CASA volunteers. Pre-service training is scheduled begin online in June. Applicants must be 21 years old to apply, and acceptance subject to criminal background checks.