If you’re looking for a little lighthearted reading, you may want to skip this post, but I hope instead you’ll bear with me as I shamelessly plug a good cause.
Few of us reach adulthood without having to navigate some sort of turmoil somewhere along the way. But for 700,000 kids each year, that turmoil means appalling neglect or abuse that is so severe they are removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Can you imagine that? Taken away from your family by strangers and placed in a house with more strangers; perhaps being moved from one foster home to another and one school to another; maybe with your siblings or maybe not; never knowing when or if you’ll be able to go home again. 700,000.
There are many ways to reach out to kids in foster care and I’ve personally met some foster parents who are nothing short of heroic in their efforts to help the kids in their care, but not many people can make a commitment of that magnitude. Lots of us, however, can reach out by becoming trained volunteer advocates for children in foster care. It doesn’t require any special background and it doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does make a difference.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), also known as Guardians ad Litem in some states, are volunteers from all walks of life who provide the court with information and recommendations about what’s in the best interest of the child or children to whom they are assigned. Nationwide only a small fraction of kids in foster care have a CASA volunteer, but statistics show that children with CASA volunteers are more likely to receive needed services, more likely to be adopted, and substantially less likely to be in foster care long-term than children without CASA volunteers.
While you can’t help all 700,000 children, you can help one child at a time. In my three years of volunteering as a CASA, I’ve worked with seven different children, five of whom have been adopted into safe loving homes. If this speaks to your heart, please go to www.casaforchildren.org and learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer or send me your questions at email@example.com and I’ll be glad to respond.