Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care. As a court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer, you are empowered by the courts to help make this dream a reality. You will not only bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable children, but also their children and generations to come. And in doing so, you will enrich your life as well.
There are 470 children in the foster care system in Luzerne County. A number that is regularly growing – increasing 50 children since the beginning of the year.
Most of these children end up in the system because of abuse and neglect – experiencing traumatic stress that often has significant lasting consequences.
Studies show that for many of these children, this traumatic stress causes depression, drug abuse and other health issues.
These statistics are sobering. But there is something you can do to help.
Those same studies show that having a relationship with at least one stable, supportive adult is key for these children. It’s the key to building resilience, to healing from the trauma, to learning to cope and move forward.
That’s where CASA of Luzerne County comes in. We are here to recruit, train and support volunteers from our community who work with these children to make sure each one is safe, secure and given the opportunity to thrive in a permanent home.
As a CASA, you are appointed by the judge to a child in need. You speak up in court on behalf of this child, giving the judge your recommendations on what is in that child’s best interest. You can change their life.
As a CASA volunteer you will meet with the child regularly, as well as his or her parents, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. The CASA volunteer then uses this information to inform the judge of that child’s needs and best interests.
In June, we welcomed 14 new advocates to our program and have 33 active advocates serving 50 children. These are 33 people who are generously giving their time to make a difference in the life of a child – 33 people helping a child to experience a safe, loving and permanent home as soon as possible.
Our next training class is scheduled to begin in October. We currently have 10 people planning to attend. Our goal is to add 90 new advocates to our program by the end 2020 so that 90 more children will have a CASA.
You do not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer. We welcome people from all walks of life. We’re simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.
If you would like to learn about becoming a CASA volunteer, please join us for an information session at our office (approximately 45 minutes) either Monday at noon or Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Please visit our website – luzernecasa.org – or call our office at (570) 855-2247.
John Aciukewicz is executive director of CASA of Luzerne County.