How much our society values its children can be measured by how well they are treated and protected. It’s an equation that crosses all racial, economic and cultural lines.
The start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children, but for some, it can reveal a dark secret when teachers, staff or others notice signs of abuse or neglect. Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their homes and placed into foster care—often far from their friends, families and schools. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers are appointed by a judge to be their independent fact finders: to speak up for children who end up in the foster care system through no fault of their own, and to help ensure their best interests are served throughout the court process.
At the end of the fiscal year in June, there were 869 pending abuse and neglect cases in Peoria County; CASA of Peoria County served 303 of those children and helped close cases for 97 children. At its heart, this is not merely an issue of abuse or neglect, but the unalienable rights of a child. It’s a human rights issue. It’s about ensuring that every child has the right to learn, to grow, and to be treated with dignity and respect.
This school year, there is a need for CASA volunteers to help children in need find safe, permanent homes. The public is encouraged to attend an informational meeting at 5:30pm on September 26th at Two25 Restaurant in the Mark Twain Hotel, 225 NE Adams in Peoria. The next volunteer training class will be held October 15-24, 2016 at Advanced Medical Transport, 1718 N. Sterling Avenue in Peoria. For questions or to begin the application process, call (309) 669-2939.