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A Publication of WTVP

When a child enters the foster care system because his or her home is no longer safe due to neglect or abuse, a judge may appoint a citizen-volunteer to help the child—someone who advocates exclusively for him or her. That volunteer is called a CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, and that single word “advocate” says it all—a compassionate supporter who will stand up and be a voice for that child.

Peoria County has more than 1,000 pending abuse and neglect cases in the Peoria County Juvenile Court system, but only 90 CASAs serving 189 children. This leaves over 80 percent of children in the system without a CASA to advocate for them, represent their interests, and be a consistent person in their lives.

CASA advocates are there to provide a voice for a child who has no control over how his or her life may unravel or be rebuilt. CASAs conduct monthly, face-to-face visits with the child (or children); make independent, objective observations about the child’s safety and well-being; and submit a written report to the judge to help make informed decisions about the child’s permanent placement. Most importantly, there are times when CASA volunteers are the only consistent, positive adult presence in the lives of these children during a time of chaos, confusion and loneliness.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Join us at “Hands Around The Court House” at the Peoria County Courthouse at 11:30am on April 4, 2014, to show support for all children of neglect or abuse. If you’d like to further support these children, volunteer to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or join the Sponsor-A-Child Campaign to raise $48,000 and serve 40 more children here in Peoria County, so those young voices can say, “Then a CASA came into my life…” iBi

To volunteer, donate or for more information, visit casapeoria.org or call (309) 669-2939.

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