Crucial need for volunteers to give foster children a voice in the courtroom

KCBD Newschannel 11 at 10 CASA volunteers needed 9/17/2019

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - CASA of the South Plains is asking for your help. The organization is looking for people to become a court appointed special advocate for a child in foster care.

Last year more than 1,500 children in our region were brought into the foster care system. Of those 1,500, CASA was able to serve about 600. But, that left more than 900 children without a voice in the courtroom.

That is why they need your help.

Patti Castro, recruitment director for CASA of the South Plains, said children are coming into the foster care system each day.

“When they get to the courtrooms, a lot of times there are different attorneys assigned to all the different parties, even to the child, but who’s really looking at the case as a whole and making that recommendation to the court as to what would be in their best interest,” Castro said.

A court appointed special advocate will visit the child, talk with their placement, with CPS workers, with attorneys, teachers, physicians and therapists.

“Just to kind of get a general idea of how the child is doing and what that child’s needs are, then they’re going to take all of that information and they’re going to put it into a court report and that is submitted to the judges before the next hearing,” Castro said.

Right now, CASA is serving 376 children using every volunteer on their roster.

“Ultimately our goal would be to have a waiting list of volunteers so that every child that comes into care is able to have that representation,” Castro said.

Being a volunteer takes 10 to 15 hours a month. A commitment Castro said is nothing when you consider the impact you are making on the life of a child.

But, Castro said the impact is not only on the children.

“Most of our volunteers will tell you that they got into this for the child, so that they could become a voice for the child. But, they will tell you what a blessing it’s been in their own lives and just how rewarding it is to see the difference that they’re able to make in the lives of these children,” Castro said.

The organization is offering one more training session this year. It is an accelerated training, so it will only take 15 in-office hours instead of 24.

A CASA 101 informational session will be held Wednesday, September 18 at 12:00 at their downtown location.

You can sign up at www.casaofthesouthplains.org.

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