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‘CASA’ is searching for more advocates for child welfare in foster care

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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PEORIA (WEEK) - For Court appointed special advocates of the tenth judicial court (CASA), they wanted to amplify the voices of children in the foster care system due to abuse and neglect. Although CASA advocates to more than 600 hundred children in Peoria, Tazewell, Marshall, Putnam and Stark counties, that’s only a third of the children in the system that could use an advocate.

“All of these children whether or not they’ve been assigned to a CASA representative or not. Once they’re involved in the system they’re going to be experiencing trauma and that’s something as a CASA representative that we can help to mitigate,” CASA recruitment coordinator Michael Murphy said.

CASA volunteers each connect with one child, come to court and speak in direct support for a child. They tasked to create reports by complying with information from the child’s school, family, doctors and, most importantly, the child themselves.

“What they do when they’re assigned to a case is they build a relationship with these children, not only a relationship just based on what they see but this is a constant in these children’s lives,” Murphy said.

A child could have multiple caseworks and foster parents, but CASA volunteers are asked to commit to staying with a child for at least two years. The employees came from many walks of lives, but what brings them together is the impact CASA has on children’s lives.

“I have the experience of having a CASA in my home. I also have a youth that I’m adopting,” CASA advocate supervisor Torree Watson-Jones said.

“What I learned through my time with the Illinois Department of Corrections is that a lot of the offenders that I worked with had some form of trauma that they experienced as a child,” CASA Tazewell Count Coordinator Ryan Lacerna said.

Last week ,8-year-old Navin Jones died due to child neglect and abuse. Members at CASA mourn a child they wish they would have supported.

“Had we been assigned to that case there would have been an extra set of eyes on that child we very well could have helped changed his story,” Murphy said.

Anyone over 21 who wants to help a child is invited to apply. Click here to apply.

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