Baby Boomers Make a Difference Through CASA

Monday, November 23, 2009

The pool of active retirees in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois is a rich source of knowledge, talent, and energy. These individuals have raised families, worked in factories and service industries, managed businesses and farms, served as doctors, nurses, teachers and pastors. They have a life-time of experiences to share. Although no longer employed full time, they continue to actively seek rewarding ways in which to share their skill sets to make a difference in their communities and in the lives of individuals. Do you know an active retiree who has time to invest in a worthwhile cause, is young at heart, and wants to make a big difference in the life of a child?

Abused and neglected children, a group largely invisible to the public, greatly benefits from the support of active retirees who become CASA volunteers. These children desperately need caring and dedicated adults to speak for them. In the three-county 32nd Judicial Circuit of Bollinger, Cape Girardeau and Perry counties there are many substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect each year. These children are in need of compassionate, committed adults to advocate for them in our court system.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Southeast Missouri works with abused and neglected children to ensure that the child's immediate and long-term needs are met, that a healthy and permanent placement is secured for each child in a timely fashion, and to heighten public awareness to their plight. Although CASA has thirty-six local volunteers the organization is only able to serve about half of the children who have been removed from their homes by the court due to situations of abuse and neglect in the 32nd Judicial District. More volunteers are needed to advocate for the health, safety and well-being of these children.

Prospective CASA volunteers are interviewed and undergo a screening before they attend 30 hours of training, and are sworn in as officers of the court. The CASA volunteer is then assigned a case through the juvenile court system. Volunteers investigate, familiarizing themselves with case files, relevant history, environment, and relationships to ascertain the needs of the child. They work with the Missouri Children's Division to identify resources and services for the child. Findings are included in a court report which is submitted to the judge regarding the best interests of the child. The final step in the role of the CASA volunteer is to monitor the case insuring that court orders and children's division plans are carried out.

Active retirees who serve as volunteers for CASA of Southeast Missouri help to change lives of abused or neglected children. They help to place children in permanent and safe homes where the cycle of abuse and neglect is broken, increasing the likelihood that children will finish their education and become productive citizens. Volunteers are empowered as they help to strengthen the community and the nation by helping a child to have a better and more stable life. Does some one you know have the time and desire to help change the world one child at a time? Call CASA of Southeast Missouri (573 335 1726) to see how you can help!

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