Voices for Children/CASA Invites Community Members to Learn About to Adopting, Fostering and Advocating for Foster Children

Friday, March 2, 2018

Voices for Children/CASA Invites Community Members to Learn About to Adopting, Fostering and Advocating for Foster Children

Informational meeting on March 6 will teach community members about

opportunities to help foster kids

Cape Girardeau, MO, March 6, 2018 - More than 19,400 children are currently in the custody of Missouri Children’s Division, and in the 32nd Judicial District alone, 590 children were brought into their custody in 2017. The children are in need of temporary or permanent homes and adults who can provide a voice for them as they make their way through the court system. On Tuesday, March 6 at 6:00pm, Voices for Children/CASA of Southeast Missouri, Inc. will host an informational meeting for community members who are interested in learning how to help the foster children in Cape Girardeau County. Scott Lipke, Associate Circuit Judge Division IV, will discuss the benefits of CASAs for children in foster care, and Carrie Patrick, Missouri Children’s Division, will address the dire need for foster and adoptive parents within Cape County.

The event is open to the public, and adults in the community are encouraged to attend to learn about the different ways they can provide support to local children in the foster care system. The informational meeting will be at CrossRoads Fellowship, 4400 E. Jackson Blvd., in Jackson at 6:00pm on Tuesday, March 6.

“We have an overwhelming number of children in foster care right now who need support from their community,” said Eva Hillis, Volunteer Coordinator for Voices for Children/CASA of Southeast Missouri, Inc. “We want people to realize that they can still provide support and a voice for these kids, even if adoption isn’t an option. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, advocate. Kids in foster care need our voices; we want to show adults how to use them.”

At the meeting, community members can learn about adopting, fostering and volunteering to help children within the foster system. Adults can volunteer as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for children to provide an objective, unbiased voice as they go through the court system. Cape Girardeau, Perry and Bollinger counties are currently in need of CASA volunteers.

After completing training, CASA volunteers typically commit five to ten hours per month for at least 18 months with their assigned case. CASAs must represent the best interest of the child, be at least 21 years old and be able and willing to submit monthly reports in a timely fashion. Despite the limited time commitment, research has found that children with a CASA spend less time in foster care, do better in school and are more likely to find a safe, permanent home.

“I think having a representative from Voices for Children/CASA is a huge benefit for families and children in custody,” said Susan E. Bundy, MSW, 32nd Circuit Manager, Missouri Children’s Division. “The representative is not affiliated with Children’s Division, the Juvenile office, or the attorneys on the case, and as such they have a unique perspective. They are able to devote their time as needed with children and develop rapport. The representative is included in all meetings and court appearances in regards to the children with whom they are involved. These volunteers are vested in the children and are very passionate in their work with children. Children placed outside of their home whether it is in foster care, relative home, or a residential facility, all experience trauma and there really cannot be enough people to listen to them, spend time with them, and advocate for them. For anyone considering being a part of this great organization thank you. I think you will find it ultimately rewarding to be such an integral part of a child’s life while going through such a difficult time.”

Informational meetings are also planned in Bollinger County and Perry County, which, with Cape County, make up the local district. The University of Missouri Extension Office in Marble Hill will host a meeting on Tuesday, March 20, at 6:00 p.m., while a meeting in Perryville will be held on Thursday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Perry County Court House.

Local adults are invited to learn more about opportunities for volunteering, fostering and adopting children in the system. The meeting is open to anyone with a desire to help local children in need.

Voices for Children is a 501(c)3 that trains volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties in Missouri. These volunteers serve as independent monitors and advocate for abused and neglected children in and out of foster care under the jurisdiction of the 32nd Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court. We strive to ensure that the children’s immediate and long-term needs are met while they wait for a healthy, permanent placement.

If you would like more information, please contact Eva Hillis at 573.225.9494.

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