Currently, the Cherokee County CASA program is only able serve about 45% of the kids in Foster Care. Cherokee CASA currently has 80 active volunteer advocates serving approximately 180 kids on any given day. On that same day, there are just over 400 children in state custody, leaving 220 children in need of an advocate.
220 children, separated from their families, with no one to speak for them in court and no adult to guide them. When I worked with abused children, I saw firsthand the transformational impact these advocates can have in a child’s life.
In case you’re not sure what Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) do, they provide focused child advocacy so that no child lingers in the foster care system without the security of a safe, nurturing and permanent family. The volunteer advocates review records and talk to everyone involved in the child’s life to determine what is in the child’s best interest. The volunteer reports these findings to the judge, who then uses that information to determine where that child should live on a permanent basis. Advocates work with parents to access services they need to stabilize their lives and improve their parenting skills so that the family can be reunited. But when reunification is not appropriate, advocates help to quickly find relatives or adoptive parents who can provide a permanent and stable home.
Volunteers are provided the training to give them the tools they need to be the best possible advocate for the children and youth they will serve. After completing training and background screening, our volunteers focus on one or two cases at a time while receiving guidance and advice from a professional supervisor.
Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives. Independent research has demonstrated that children with a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and less likely to reenter care.
Training classes are provided by our local CASA at The Children’s Haven in Canton. New training classes are forming now, and they offer daytime and evening classes to those who are interested. Please visit CherokeeChildrensHaven.org for more information.