For children who have experienced abuse or neglect, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help make a difference by helping them work their way through the court and child welfare systems in search of a loving home. Each time a child is paired with a CASA Volunteer, their chances are greater to have the best possible outcome. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for the child’s best interest in the court process. They work with judges, lawyers, social workers, and families to ensure each child has an advocate in court, the child welfare, and foster care systems.

Many life goals and achievements that our culture considers normal rites of passage do not occur for children who are in foster care. Statistics show that 40% do not graduate from high school, 20% become homeless within one year and 25% will be incarcerated after leaving foster care. In contrast, children with CASA volunteers spend 7.5 months less time in foster care, experience fewer out-of-home placements, have significantly better educational performance, and are 90% less likely to reenter the system. By working to reduce the length of time a child spends in foster care, CASA saves the state thousands of dollars while drastically improving the quality of a child’s life, one child at a time. Every child that CASA helps to find a safe, permanent home is one more future adult who has a chance to thrive and succeed in our society.

In 2015, there were 10,279 dependency proceedings in Alabama. Currently, we only have the capacity to serve 10% of the children who need a CASA Volunteer. We must serve more but we cannot do it without the help of caring individuals willing to be trained to serve. You don’t have to be “qualified,” just a caring, compassionate and concerned person willing to be trained.

CASA is presently recruiting volunteers to work with abused and neglected children in all areas of Shelby County and parts of the Hoover area. Training classes begin April 2018. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.casaofshelbycounty.org or call Beth at 243-8753. †

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