“Change a Child’s Story” campaign designed to find advocates for the more than 8,400 Colorado children in the child welfare system
Colorado Springs, Colo. (Oct. 3, 2019) – Today, in conjunction with the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, Colorado CASA announced the launch of its “Change a Child’s Story” campaign in an effort to recruit 2,020 additional CASA volunteers by the end of 2020. CASA volunteers are sworn officers of the court who serve as advocates for children who are involved in the child welfare system and have often experienced abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Last year — with only 2,179 CASA volunteers in Colorado — 4,857 children were assigned a CASA volunteer to walk beside them, representing approximately 37% of all children served through an open child welfare involvement in Colorado today. In addition to building a positive relationship with a child or teenager, trained volunteers assist the judge in making the most informed decision based on the child’s best interest. An encouraging and active community plays a vital role in supporting children and their families in the child welfare system, which makes the overall community stronger.
A link between adverse experiences in childhood and poor health outcomes later in life as an adult has been researched and clearly established over the last several decades. However, a new research study from Brigham Young University (BYU), published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, shows positive childhood experiences, like having a mentor, have the potential to negate harmful health effects caused by adverse childhood experiences.
“This new research underscores just how important positive childhood experiences are for our long-term health, especially for those who experience significant adversity as a child,” said Jenny Bender, executive director of Colorado CASA. “We now have even more evidence that supportive communities and positive relationships with CASAs can help kids who have experienced abuse and neglect become productive citizens.”
Colorado CASA reports children in foster care who have a CASA volunteer are more likely to succeed in school, adjust to change and feel a sense of purpose and worth. They are also half as likely to re-enter the foster care system later.
“For those who feel we have a shared responsibility to help children realize their full potential and fully contribute to Colorado’s future, becoming a CASA volunteer is the best way to change a child’s story. We hope this campaign will inspire more people over the next year to get involved and support children and families in their communities,” said Bender.
One CASA volunteer — one consistent adult — dedicated to that child’s well-being throughout that time period can make a big difference by reducing the amount of time a child may spend in foster care, ensuring the child and the family have access to vital resources, and helping strengthen and reunify families whenever possible.
Anyone over the age of 21 can serve as a CASA after a thorough interview, a background check and completing CASA training, much of which can be taken online. With an average of four hours a week, anyone, even working professionals and young adults, can change a child’s story as a CASA volunteer. Colorado CASA is in need of volunteers who represent the children being served, especially male volunteers and volunteers from diverse backgrounds.
About Colorado CASA
Colorado CASA is a 501(c)3 organization with a network of 18 affiliated programs organized by judicial districts across the state in 43 of the 64 counties. Together, with 950 other state and local member programs across the nation, Colorado CASA supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for youth who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) receives special training and is appointed by a Judge as an Officer of the Court to focus on one youth at a time and as a result, they bring a great depth of understanding and empathy. To begin your volunteer journey, visit www.coloradocasa.org
About CASA of the Pikes Peak Region
CASA of the Pikes Peak Region is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1989 as a local program of the National CASA Association. Serving El Paso and Teller Counties, the organization’s core mission is to recruit, train, and support citizen volunteers in its Dependency & Neglect program to provide a voice and advocate for victims of child abuse and neglect. The nonprofit also operates a Supervised Exchange & Parenting Time (SEPT) program, Milton Foster Children’s Fund (MFCF) & the Hanger, Life Long Links, and Children & Families in Transition. With more than 400 volunteers who put in roughly 19,000 hours in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region provided advocates for 710 children and served more than 900 children through additional programming. For more information, visit www.casappr.org.