3 minutes reading time (522 words)

A Heartfelt Journey: One Volunteer's Impact on Over 30 Foster Children

casa-volunteer

With over 400,000 children in foster care nationwide, the role of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) becomes crucial in ensuring the welfare of these vulnerable children. Susan Ward, a dedicated CASA volunteer from Gila County, shares her impactful journey of advocating for more than 30 children across two states, shedding light on the vital work done by CASAs and the profound difference they make in the lives of foster children.

Ward's journey began in 2007 when she sought a new way to contribute to her community after her children entered high school. Inspired by the CASA program, she embarked on a mission to support children navigating the complexities of the foster care system. Her dedication saw her serving as a CASA in Washington State before continuing her advocacy work after moving to Arizona in 2022.

Foster children often find themselves in a world of uncertainty and fear, having been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or trauma. CASA volunteers like Ward step in to be their voice, advocating for their needs in court, at school, and within the foster care system to ensure they can lead as normal a life as possible. From securing necessary clothing and educational supplies to addressing their emotional and psychological needs, CASAs play an indispensable role in the foster care ecosystem.

One of Ward's most poignant experiences involved a young boy who faced numerous setbacks in his quest for a forever home. After years of uncertainty and multiple foster placements, Ward's unwavering support and advocacy helped reconnect him with a pre-adoptive family, leading to a successful adoption. This story highlights the CASA's role as a constant, caring presence in a foster child's life, often amidst a sea of change and instability.

The challenges CASA volunteers face are immense, confronting the harsh realities of drug addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, and homelessness that affect the lives of many foster children. Yet, it is the rewarding moments — the bright smiles of the children, their success stories, and their gratitude — that fuel their commitment and drive their efforts.

The need for more CASA volunteers is urgent, with thousands of foster children in Arizona alone in need of an advocate. CASA volunteers undergo comprehensive training and support, equipped with the knowledge and skills to make a significant impact. No special background is required, just a commitment to help and a willingness to dedicate time to a child's case.

For those inspired by Ward's story and interested in making a difference, the CASA program offers a unique opportunity to change lives. Volunteers can expect to spend approximately 12-15 hours a month on their advocacy work, in addition to ongoing training. The rewards, however, are immeasurable, providing children in foster care with the hope, support, and advocacy they desperately need.

San Tan Valley residents interested in becoming a CASA volunteer or learning more about the Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) and its role in the foster care system can visit AZCASAVolunteer.org andazcourts/FCRB for more information. The commitment of a CASA volunteer can pave the way for a brighter future for foster children, one child at a time.
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Friday, 12 April 2024

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