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    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    National Adoption Month - CASA Post by Silke

    CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocate

    Did you know that in 2002, an estimated 1,400 children died as a result of abuse and neglect. 76%of those children were under four years old. Today, over one half-million children are in foster care because they cannot safely live with their families.

    You can help abused and neglected children by becoming a CASA. CASA volunteers work to ensure that these children do not suffer further abuse due to the overburdened court system or at home.

    A CASA is a trained volunteer who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of a child in court by serving as an extra pair of eyes and ears for the Court and a voice for the child. Children who are victims of abuse and neglect who have become wards of the court are assigned CASA volunteers.

    What does having a CASA volunteer mean to an abused child? Imagine what it would be like to lose your parents, not because of something you did, but because they can't - or won't - take care of you. Now, into your life come dozens of strangers: police, foster parents, social workers, judges, lawyers, and more. Having a CASA volunteer means having by your side a trained and committed adult who has been appointed by a judge to watch over and advocate for your best interests. That volunteer will make sure you don't get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. They will be there for you until your case is closed. It can make the difference between homelessness and a safe home, between dropping out and completing school, between unemployment and success, between jail and becoming a productive member of society.

    Anyone can become a CASA. No special or legal background is required. Volunteers are screened closely for objectivity, competence and commitment. All volunteers must be at least 21 years of age and must submit to and pass a thorough background examination. CASA volunteers undergo a comprehensive training course conducted by the local CASA program. Training requirements vary by program, but an average course is approximately 30 hours.

    Here's what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author, Anna Quindlen had to say about CASA volunteers:

    "You go into a court room and you will see lawyers who know the law and have dozens of kids' files, or you have social workers who know the regulations and have dozens of kids' files. But if a CASA volunteer is in the room, you will see they have just one file, and what they know is that one child. And that can make all the difference to a judge's decision regarding how the rest of that child's life is going to go."
    - Anna Quindlen, on CBS "The Early Show."

    You can learn more about becoming a CASA by going to http://www.nationalcasa.org/. To find the closest CASA program to you click on "volunteer" and then "find CASA in my community."

    I became a CASA in 2002 and it's one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. I want to thank Greta for giving me this opportunity to tell you about the CASA program. I know she believes in it as much as I do. Please consider volunteering your time and talents to this very worthy cause.


    Shared by Greta (Hooah Wife) @ 11:14 AM

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