Due to the generosity of Ameren UE Corporation, children served by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children in South Central Missouri had an extra special Valentine’s Day this year.
A grant application submitted by CASA in the fall of 2012, requested monies for the purchase of St. Louis Cardinal backpacks and duffel bags for the children who are assigned to CASA volunteers of the 25th Circuit Court.
The purpose of the grant was to provide children who are part of the foster care and juvenile court system, a special place to put their belongings as they are moved through the relocation process. Sometimes the children are required to move to another location in order to be placed in a safe environment.
Cardinal backpacks and duffels were chosen so that the children would have something that connects them to their surrounding community, their schools and the fan base of Cardinal Nation while providing them with something more substantial for their belongings than a plastic bag.
CASA volunteers become special advocates on behalf of children in Phelps, Texas, Maries and Pulaski counties. Due circumstances beyond their control, these children become a part of the foster care and juvenile court system. Many of the children have been abused and neglected. A CASA volunteer provides a voice for each child, a constant representative and a sustained relationship of caring and mentoring.
Each volunteer completes an extensive 30-hour training program, including sessions of child abuse and neglect, child development, cultural diversity, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health and the court system.
To become a volunteer, no previous training or educational background is required. Each volunteer handles one or two cases at a time, to allow for individual attention to each child and his case.
Volunteers are appointed to cases by the judges in the 25th Circuit Court.
Statistics indicate that children assigned a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-time foster care and less likely to re-enter the child welfare system. Involvement of a CASA volunteer increases the likelihood that appropriate services will be ordered by the court for children and families.