El Paso, Texas – While many children eagerly await candy and cards this Valentine’s Day, children in the child welfare system wait for something much more permanent – a loving home.
When children are removed from their homes due to evidence of abuse or neglect and placed in the child welfare system, they are frequently placed far away from their friends and family – forcing many of them to navigate the system on their own without a reliable adult presence to look out for them.
Volunteers with CASA of El Paso strive to find loving homes for these children by guiding them through their time in foster care and speaking up for their best interests in court and other settings.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers are everyday people using their voices to improve the life of a child. Each volunteer is specially trained and appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of children in foster care. A CASA volunteer’s main goal is to help move the child out of the temporary foster care system and into a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.
CASA of El Paso is one of the 72 CASA programs in Texas that recruits, screens and trains these volunteers to advocate for children.
“When children in foster care don’t have a steady adult to guide them, it’s easy for them to get lost in the chaos of the overburdened child welfare system,” said Lisa Saucedo, Executive Director of CASA of El Paso. “Our volunteers make sure this doesn’t happen by putting the best interests of the children first and ensuring that their voices are heard.”
CASA volunteers get to know the child on a personal level and communicate with everyone involved in the child’s life. They focus on the child’s physical, educational and emotional needs in order to make well-informed, holistic placement recommendations to the court.
“CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for reunification with the child’s immediate family,” said Saucedo. “But when that’s not an option, they work vigorously to place the child in a caring adoptive home.”
Last year, nearly 28,000 Texas children had a CASA volunteer – but that still left too many children without a dependable guide to help them through their time in the system.
Last year, 370 CASA volunteers served 607 children in the foster care system in El Paso County, but 200 children still need a volunteer to advocate for their best interests.
“Every child deserves to have a safe, enduring and loving home this Valentine’s Day,” said Saucedo. “Become a CASA volunteer and help each child get the happy ending they deserve.”
For more information, visit www.BecomeaCASA.org or www.casaofelpaso.org The next Information session is scheduled for Thursday, February 23 at 5:30pm at the CASA offices at 221 N. Kansas Street.