Each year, a startling number of children enter the foster care system due to abuse and neglect. Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA volunteers, provide a voice for these children to help them reach safe, permanent homes.
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, a time to recognize the role each of us can play in the lives of children and youth living in foster care. CASA volunteers play a crucial role in many of these children’s lives by speaking up for their best interests during this challenging time. Volunteers are appointed by juvenile court judges to help a child reach their forever home.
In 2018, over 5,000 reports of abuse and neglect were reported in the Baton Rouge region and over 300 children were being served in foster care each month on average, according to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCSF). Of the CASA children whose cases closed in 2018, 88 percent were living in permanent homes at the time of closure with the help of their CASA volunteer. CASA volunteers work with the court and DCSF to serve every child that needs a voice; however, children are continually coming into foster care, and more volunteers are needed.
CASA volunteers do not provide legal representation, nor do they replace social workers, but they help provide information to the court, and resources to the children. They are an independent voice speaking solely for the best interests of the child. The CASA volunteer may be the only consistent adult in their lives during this time.
CASA is now accepting applications for the next training course in East Baton Rouge Parish which begins on June 11. CASA is seeking caring adults – especially male and African American individuals – to become advocates for abused and neglect children in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The training course prepares volunteers to be the best advocates with a three week, 32-hour curriculum which covers topics such as The Well-Being of the Child; Trauma, Resilience and Communication Skills; Mental Health; Poverty and Professional Communication; and Substance Abuse and Cultural Competence to name a few.
No special background is required to become a CASA volunteer. The first step is to attend a 45-minute orientation session at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave.
Upcoming orientation dates:
12 p.m., Monday, May 13
10 a.m., Saturday, May 18
4 p.m., Monday, May 20
3 p.m., Wednesday, May 22
5 p.m., Tuesday, May 28
9 a.m., Thursday, May 30
To learn more about CASA or to RSVP for an orientation visitwww.casabr.org/volunteer or call 225-379-8598.