October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

From July 2020 to December 2020, the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline received 22,227 calls that met the statutory criteria for a Department of Child Safety report. CASA of Arizona and its volunteers have been advocating for abused and neglected children in Arizona for over 35 years and have served over 25,000 children. Today, there are more than 14,000 children in Arizona who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.

These dedicated Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers are making a difference in children’s lives, giving them a voice in court and advocating for their best interest. A CASA is the one person in a child’s life who isn’t paid to show up. This means the world to a child in foster care.

CASA volunteers are not only efficient, but they are effective too. Studies have shown that a child in foster care that is assigned a CASA volunteer is more likely to succeed in school, more likely to find a safe, permanent home, and half as likely to re-enter the foster care system.

How can you make a difference? Become a CASA volunteer. Court Appointed Special Advocates are everyday community members who donate their time to be the voice for a child. CASA volunteers visit with the children regularly. They follow the progress of the child’s court case, speak with important people in the child’s life, and report their observations back to the court so the judge can make informed decisions on behalf of the child.

No specific background or training is needed to become a volunteer CASA advocate. Anyone 21 years of age or older, who can pass a thorough background check and complete 30 hours of free training, is encouraged to apply.

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 mfish@courts.az.gov or see www.casaofsantacruzcounty.org.

Margie Fish

CASA of Santa Cruz County, Nogales

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