New Year’s resolutions typically focus on self-improvement: lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more often. This year, why not resolve to do something even more lasting: improve the life of a child who has suffered abuse and neglect?
As a court-appointed special advocate (CASA), volunteers receive in-depth training to advocate in court and in the community for the needs and rights of children in foster care. Volunteers come from all walks of life and professions and have one thing in common: they care about kids.
“Volunteers get to know the child they represent by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them,” explains Ruth Cavins, Executive Director of CASA for Kids, serving Payne and Logan Counties.
Volunteers complete a 30-hour pre-service training. Once they are assigned to a case, they can expect to spend an average of about 10 hours a month getting to know the child, gathering information, exploring resources to meet the child’s needs, representing the child in court and writing reports. Volunteers receive ongoing education and support from their local program as well as from the Oklahoma CASA Association, and the National CASA Association.
“It’s one of the most personally rewarding experiences I’ve ever had,” says local volunteer Amy Hoffman. “Sometimes the CASA volunteer is the only stable, supportive adult these kids have. My sole responsibility is to protect their rights. I know that I’m not just helping these children, but their kids and their grandkids and generations of kids to follow.”
To learn more about how you can make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child right here in your own community, call 405-624-2242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Becoming an advocate for foster children will be the best resolution you can make this year or any year,” Cavins concludes.