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ProKids CASA Volunteers are Heroes
The Cincinnati Enquirer spotlighted the good work of ProKids and its CASA program and volunteers in an article by Krista Ramsey on Sunday, January 19, 2014. The Dater Foundation has supported ProKids and its CASA University with seven grants totaling $115,000 since 2007.
Cincinnati Enquirer. Sunday, January 19, 2014
CASA volunteers fight to give voices to abused and neglected children
By Krista Ramsey
Peyton Manning. Tom Brady. Russell Wilson. Knowshon Moreno.
Mimi Dyer. Donald Swain. Gail Bowler. Susan Neaman.
All the names above are somebody’s hero. The first set for influencing the outcome of a football game. The second for influencing the life of a child.
Mimi, Donald, Gail and Susan are CASAs – court appointed special advocates who watch over and advocate for neglected and abused children as they move through the child services system.
What that means is that they go to schools and meet with teachers to find out why a foster child is falling behind. They work with foster families to make sure a child with disabilities gets the help he needs. They share their concerns with the child’s social worker. In court, they recommend to a magistrate with whom the child should live. And they meet with the child every month to find out how they’re doing and what they’re feeling.
CASAs stay with the same child until he or she is in a safe, permanent home – which sometimes means for years. They focus on a single child, at most a set of siblings. They are volunteers, so they cost taxpayers nothing and their service saves thousands of tax dollars. They are trained and supported by ProKids so they understand the laws surrounding foster children and know how to help protect and support them in the most sensitive and ethical of ways.
They are sometimes the single consistent adult presence in a child’s life while he’s in the “system.” They are sometimes the only one who has the time and focus to see that a child is troubled or afraid. They are sometimes the critical factor in getting a child out of an unsafe environment or into the perfect adoptive home. Sometimes, they’ve helped save a child’s life.
For every person who reads stories about abused or neglected children and laments that there are no sure-fire solutions, there’s a CASA out there fighting for a kid’s best chance. Nationally, children in foster care are 10 times more likely to be abused than those in the general population; 99 percent of the children helped by ProKids are free from abuse while in foster care. That’s been true for more than a decade.
Individually, CASAs come from all backgrounds, racial and ethnic groups and ages. Collectively, they form part of the backbone of the child welfare system. And as Hamilton County takes about 2,200 children into custody each year, that system desperately needs more CASAs. ProKids is urgently recruiting 66 new CASAs to join the 178 already volunteering. If you’ve been looking for a life-changing experience, visit www.prokids.org or call 513-281-2000 and sign up for a “snapshot” information session to learn how to become a CASA volunteer.
Somewhere out there, a child is waiting for you.