To the Editor:
Nelson Mandela insightfully noted, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Last year over 500 of our Mercer County children were living in a place other than their own home. When the child welfare agency determines that child abuse and/or neglect has occurred, a child is removed from the home and placed in out-of-home placement i.e., foster homes or group homes or residential facilities.
The plight of the child after being removed from an abusive situation and placed in the child welfare system turns into a difficult journey, one impossible for a child to navigate through on his or her own.
Fortunately, that is where Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) steps in. CASA recruits, screens and trains volunteers in the community to advocate in court for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and are now in out-of-home placement. The mission of CASA is to find safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible so the children don’t languish in the child welfare system.
Through regular visits with the child, in addition to interviews with caretakers, teachers, therapists, and child welfare workers, the CASA volunteer provides up to date information on how the child is doing and includes it in a comprehensive written report, along with recommendations for services that are disseminated to all of the legal parties, including the Family Court judge.
In Mercer County, we greatly need more volunteers. There are many good souls in the area who want to protect all of our children and judge it a basic human right to have a home and family of their own. Visit our website at www.casamercer.org or call (609) 434-0050 to become a CASA volunteer.
Executive Director, CASA of Mercer County, Inc.