Letter: CASA gives voice to children in need

Dear Editor:

Children are powerless to advocate for their own best interests in dependency and neglect cases. These children, who have already experienced the trauma of abuse, neglect, and/or domestic violence, are often additionally traumatized by their journey through the child welfare system. These additional experiences, such as removal from their homes, being shuffled from foster home to foster home, as well as school displacement, can have lifelong, detrimental implications on their mental and physical health.

Children in the dependency and neglect system have also been found to be at high risk for dropping out of school and committing criminal acts later in life. Children that have spent extended time in foster care, kinship care or group homes are often found to have attachment difficulties, low self-esteem and difficulty regulating their emotions.

However, this is a way to help these children. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Ninth gives a voice to children who have been abused and neglected. Our mission is to provide well trained, court-appointed volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children in Colorado’s Ninth Judicial District’s dependency and neglect court proceedings. Our vision is to provide a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every child we serve in Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. Our services provide a voice to these children on their journeys through the child welfare system. Most importantly, CASA volunteers listen and observe to get a feel for the social, emotional, economic, and physical well-being of the children, and to learn about their wishes and desires and make sure the children do not fall between the cracks. CASA volunteers ensure that the needs and the best interests of the children are represented in court by making recommendations to the court on their best interests. The single most important recommendation a CASA volunteer can make is where the child’s forever home should be.

National longitudinal studies have shown that children with a CASA are more likely to pass all their classes, less likely to have poor conduct in school or be expelled than children without a CASA appointed to their cases. Those same studies show that children with CASAs achieve permanency faster (on average eight months sooner), are more likely to be adopted and are half as likely to re-enter foster care than children without a CASA.

There are children who need you. If you would like to make a positive impact in the lives of local children who have experienced trauma, please visit our website (www.casaoftheninth.org) or give us a call 970-987-4332. A volunteer training is scheduled for the end of the month in Rio Blanco County and we would be happy to discuss with you what it means to be a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate.

Christy Doyon

Glenwood Springs