June 21, 2014 is almost here! Did you know that June 21st has been identified as the longest day of the year?! Many children during this time of year are spending these long summer days happily swimming in a pool or camping with their loved ones, but summer is not always so happy for children in the foster care system.
When children are removed from their homes due to evidence of abuse and neglect, they are placed in the care of the state, sometimes far away from their loved ones. During these difficult times, the children who have a CASA volunteer experience the dedication that their volunteer has to them. Sometimes these volunteers log long days in Court or with their CASA kid in order to ensure that the voice of their CASA kid can be represented.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers from CASA for the Highland Lakes Area help these children to feel supported during their long days in foster care. CASA volunteers are everyday members of the community who are specially trained and appointed by courts to advocate for children in foster care. They work to guide the children through foster care and into safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
“Our volunteers get to know the child and advocate for the child’s mental and physical health and educational needs,” said Kristen Harris, the Executive Director of CASA for the Highland Lakes Area. “Most importantly, however, they work diligently to get the child out of foster care and into a loving home.”
CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for reunification with the child’s family, and if that’s not possible, placement with extended family. But when there is no safe and willing relative, CASA volunteers work to help place the child with a caring adoptive family.
There are 209 children in the child protection system from the Highland Lakes Area and currently only 71 CASA volunteers in our area, leaving too many children without a CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interests.
“Every child that needs one should have a CASA volunteer, but we need more people to get involved to make that happen,” said Harris. “Consider becoming a CASA volunteer so that more of these children can celebrate the summer with loving families.”
Children who have CASA volunteers typically spend less time in foster care, get the services they need to begin to heal and do better academically. That is good for children and it is good for taxpayers, said Harris.
This summer, become a CASA volunteer and help children in need find safe, permanent homes. For more information, contact CASA for the Highland Lakes Area at (325)-388-3440 or visit our website at www.highlandlakescasa.com.The next training session for volunteer advocates begins in August, so contact our office today to get on that list.