With adoptions taking place across the country for National Adoption Day in November, CASA of Arizona (Court Appointed Special Advocates) will celebrate this milestone with hundreds of children across the state that have now found their forever, loving homes this year.
National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 115,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. Each November, children across the country get to celebrate a new life with loving families. In many of these cases, a CASA advocate has been there to support the child along the way.
On any given day, there are more than 11,500 children and youth in Arizona living in foster homes, group homes, shelters, or with relatives due to neglect and abuse. At present, more than 10,000 of these children don’t have access to a CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interest.
A family in Arizona recently experienced the gift of adoption as they formally adopted a seven-year-old boy and four-year-old girl whom they had fostered since the youngest was seven months old. The day coincided with the girl’s four-year birthday and the family threw a neighborhood party for everyone that had been involved to celebrate this new sense of security that their son described with these words: “I belong now. This is my family.”
“This is a new start for these children,” said the adopted father and mother in this case — Joe and Christina. “Seeing the kids get something good in their life and finally finding a life full of love provides such a sense of relief and happiness for us all — and we couldn’t have gotten to this point without CASA.”
CASA volunteers are everyday members of the community who are appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of abused and neglected children during a dependency case. Their role is to act as a consistent adult presence for a child in foster care as they go through court proceedings and adjust to life in their temporary homes — to walk the walk with the child and let them know they’re not alone.
“CASAs are desperately needed because they advocate for each child’s best interest above anything else,” said Joe and Christina. “The minute our CASA volunteer was appointed, we felt a positive shift in the case with progress being made to establish stability and permanency in the children’s lives. Our CASA volunteer provided us with the miracle these children so desperately needed.”
CASA volunteers have the unique opportunity to make a huge, direct impact in the lives of children — while also becoming integral parts of the CASA program, court process and family’s lives. “If you’re looking for an opportunity to change someone’s life and set them on a completely different life path, becoming a CASA is for you,” said CASA volunteer Al who has been with the program for 9 years. “For me, the idea that I’ve put these kids into a home where I know they will be loved and cared for — and if they get a boo-boo, mom and dad will put a band-aid on it — is irreplaceable. I can make time for that any day.”
CASA of Arizona is seeking volunteers to fill the caseload gap in the state, including all 15 Arizona counties. Further, CASA of Arizona is seeking to increase the diversity and demographics of its volunteers. Volunteers with CASA of Arizona do not need any prior special training and can come from all walks of life. Anyone 21 years of age or older, who can pass a thorough background check and complete required training, is encouraged to apply. Another way to get involved is a program with similar requirements called the Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) in which volunteers are appointed by the Court to a 5-member panel that meets 1 weekday per month to review the cases of children in foster care.
To learn more about how you can become a part of the CASA team and make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child from your community, contact the CASA of Gila County Program staff by calling 928-402-4427 or visiting the website: www.casaofgilacounty.org.
Live in Pinal County? Contact the CASA of Pinal County Program staff by visiting the website: https://www.azcourts.gov/casaofpinalcounty.
To learn more about becoming a FCRB volunteer visit, www.azfcrb.org