You have probably seen one of the many recent sad stories about the state of the overburdened child welfare care system in Texas, and the challenges children face once they’re a part of it. Most people have no idea what they, as an individual, can do to help children in this situation who’ve been through abuse or neglect. But there is an answer to the question of “What can I do about child abuse?”
CASA of Travis County is that answer. CASA speaks up for children who’ve been abused or neglected by empowering our community to volunteer as advocates for them in the court system. When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations in the child’s best interest.
CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn, and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. Volunteers complete an interview, background checks and a 39-hour intensive training program including in-person and online classes and courtroom observation. After being sworn-in by a judge, volunteers are appointed to a child or family of children and spend an average of 15-20 hours a month advocating for these children for at least a year. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life in order to make independent and informed recommendations to help the judge decide what’s best for the child.
If you want to do something about child abuse and help children in the foster care system, you can learn more about volunteering with CASA of Travis County at http://www.casatravis.org/volunteer. You can also RSVP for an upcoming Volunteer Info Session on November 15, 22 or 29 where you will get to talk with staff and current volunteers about their experiences.
For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible. For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place.