Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me. Not only do I get to eat turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and pie… let’s be real I could go on all day because I will eat all day. But on Thanksgiving, I also get to connect with friends and family and cherish the things in life we are most thankful for. This year I have so many things to reflect on. Undoubtedly this year has brought challenges and difficult times, but this past year has also brought to me one of the most important additions to my life that I have ever had. I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA).
There are over 1,000,000 children that have cases of abuse or neglect and 600,000 children that pass through the foster care system each year. It is the goal of the CASAs in America to make sure those children have a voice and are heard. CASAs are the eyes and the ears for the judges. They speak to the parents, the foster parents, the service providers, the teachers, the family services caseworkers, the doctors, and every other person in that child’s life that can help determine what is in the best interest of that child. But most importantly the CASA is an individual that is there to talk to the child, to be a constant in a world of changing caseworkers, changing foster homes, and so on.
A CASA is an individual who is able to be the voice in court for a child who is involved with a case of abuse or neglect. A voice. Something so simple and taken for granted. I sit back and think of all of the ways being able to stand up for myself has brought me to where I am today and I cannot even begin to fathom not being able to have a voice. So when it was brought to my attention that there are tens of thousands of infants and children who have no voice, I felt as though my heart had been ripped from chest. They are children that have been ripped from their homes, taken from their families, and are never once asked, “What do you want?”
Right now in my county, there are over 500 children waiting to gain an advocate who is going to put their best interests first and who is going to make sure they are in a stable and loving home. This statistic is heartbreakingly common in most counties across the country. It is my personal goal to spread the dire need of CASA volunteers in our communities. If you have any interest in becoming a CASA head over to casaforchildren.org for more information about the organization and volunteering training.
I am for the child, are you?