New Year’s resolutions typically focus on self-improvement: lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more often. This year, why not resolve to do something even more lasting and rewarding: improve the life of a child who has suffered abuse and neglect?

This holiday season consider giving the gift of advocacy to a child in foster care. Becoming a CASA volunteer for foster children will be the best resolution you can make for this year or any year. As a court-appointed special advocate, volunteers receive in-depth training to advocate in court and in the community for the needs and rights of children in foster care. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older, who can pass a thorough background check. They come from all walks of life and professions and have one thing in common: they care about kids.

Volunteers get to know the child they represent by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.

CASAs complete a 30-hour pre-service training. Once they are assigned to a case, they can expect to spend an average of about 10 hours a month getting to know the child, gathering information, exploring resources to meet the child’s needs, advocating for the child in court, and writing reports. Volunteers receive ongoing education and support from their local program.

To learn more about how you can make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child here in our community, contact CASA of Santa Cruz County at casaofsantacruzcounty.org or mfish@courts.az.gov.

Allison Hurtado

CASA of Arizona

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