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CASA needs volunteer help

By submitted, 07/9/19 1:10 PM

HOPE/PRESCOTT – July in Arkansas is full of sun, swimming pools and tons of outdoor activities. While most children have the opportunity to enjoy their summer vacation by attending camps, participating in sports or having a summer job, there are many children who do not get the chance to experience these sorts of summertime activities through no fault of their own.

Last year, more than 8,300 Arkansas children were in the child welfare system, waiting to be placed in permanent homes. Victims of abuse and neglect, these children were removed from their homes through no fault of their own and placed in the overburdened child welfare system. Stuck in a cycle of moving from foster home to foster home, many children lose hope of ever finding their forever families.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers from the local CASA program strive to return hope to these children by moving them through the foster care system and into safe, loving and stable homes as quickly as possible.

Ideally, CASA volunteers work to reunify children with their family or other close relatives. When these options are not available, volunteers work to find the best possible adoptive families to fit the children’s needs.

Ordinary community members dedicate their time to become CASA volunteers. They are professionally trained and appointed by a judge to work with a child or sibling group and the people involved in the children’s lives, including relatives, teachers, social workers and others.

“With the information they gather, CASA volunteers assess the children’s physical, emotional and educational needs. Their recommendations tremendously help the judge overseeing the case to decide the best option for the child,” said Eldridge

However, not every child has a CASA volunteer. Currently in Hempstead and Nevada Counties, there are 40 children in the child protection system but only four active CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interest.  Fourteen volunteer advocates are needed to effectively advocate for all of these children.

“CASA volunteers help make a difference in lives of our most vulnerable children,” said Eldridge. “We need more members of our community to get involved so every child has a loving place to call home.”

Although its summer, these children get no summer break.  Consider taking the first step towards becoming a CASA volunteer and helping children in the foster care system find their forever homes. Find more information on www.casatexarkana.org or by calling 903-792-1030.  The next information session is July 18 at 9:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. at the H & R Block Office, 122 W. 2nd Street, Prescott, Arkansas.