Dear Editor

Published 3:20 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

Dear Editor,

I am writing regarding your recent article “Charity event raises money for CASA of Southwest Georgia, published Friday, April 20, 2018.  First, thank you for raising awareness of this very important issue.  Second, to offer a suggestion for the many people who might be wondering how they can help local children, especially those who are victims of abuse and neglect.

I encourage looking into volunteer opportunities with our local program of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA).

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CASA is a national organization which trains and supports volunteers to speak and act as advocates for the best interest of children in the foster care system and child welfare system.

CASA of Southwest Georgia has been advocating for children since 1998!  Over the past 20 years CASA has advocated for thousands of children in our area.  Currently, we have served over 160 children this year alone.  The need for child victim advocacy is greater than ever.

I have been with the CASA program for over ten years and continue to be amazed at the number of vulnerable children there are right here in our own community.  Many children who have been removed from a dangerous situation in the home, or whose single parents become ill, addicted to drugs, or incarcerated.  What is most surprising – and disheartening- is that during this incredibly vulnerable time in a young life, the department of family and children services and the family court system is simply too overworked to deal with the unique needs and rights of each child.  The system and case managers are overloaded with cases and more children are coming into state’s custody now, than ever.  As a result, too many children in the system get bounced from house to house- having to change schools five or six times in just a couple of years.  Often siblings get split up because there isn’t enough room for larger families.  Some kids even wind up in group homes and residential treatment facilities until they age out of the system when they turn 18.  The system needs community support and these children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  They deserve the chance to live in a safe, loving and permanent home.  That is why the CASA program exists.

In fact, a child with a CASA volunteer is half as likely to languish in foster care, and that much more likely to find a safe permanent home.  But, we only have enough resources to support a fraction of the children in the system today.  We are committed to ensuring that ALL children in foster care and the welfare system have a committed CASA volunteer assigned to support them

To do this, we will need to more than double the number of volunteers nationwide and locally.  We can start right here, today by contacting CASA of Southwest Georgia, Inc. at 229-248-1040 / for volunteer, donation, or other participation opportunities.  Thank you to our CASA volunteers, board members, staff, and supporters who stand up for the rights of a child.  Join us!

-Nan McIntosh