We owe every child the opportunity to thrive in the embrace of a safe and loving family.
In our society, the basic needs and rights of children are entrusted to their families. But when abuse, neglect or abandonment break those family ties, the state steps in to place our most vulnerable children in the child welfare system.
When home is no longer a safe place, more than 600,000 children a year nationally – more than 100 in Clatsop County alone – are placed in foster care. The system is full of compassionate lawyers, judges, social workers and foster families. But the overburdened system is ill-equipped to handle both the volume and complexity of the cases. It’s not that the people in the system don’t care. They care deeply. They are simply too overwhelmed to be able to advocate for and protect the rights of each and every child.
So the little girl who has already suffered in an abusive home enters the foster care system in hopes of finding stability, but instead is shuttled to three or four different homes in just a few months. Or the two siblings who lost their mother to incarceration are split up and living on different sides of the same county. Or a teen who keeps switching foster families and schools falls so far behind that dropping out seems like the only solution.
The rights of our most vulnerable children are getting lost in the shuffle of a strained system.
Clatsop CASA exists to give a voice to our most vulnerable children who are thrown into an overburdened child welfare system that is hard-pressed to meet their individual needs. We believe that no child should be lost because the system that we, as taxpayers, set up to protect them fails them instead.
Court appointed special advocates, or CASA volunteers, are empowered directly by the courts. They offer the system the critical information it needs to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care. CASA volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.
Every child who cannot live safely at home deserves an advocate.
As a society, we share a fundamental obligation to ensure that the basic rights and needs of every child are met. CASA volunteers are a formidable force fighting for these rights.
For many neglected and abused children, their CASA volunteer is the only reliable adult presence in their lives. And that single volunteer can often be enough to break the cycle of violence and neglect—not just for one child, but for generations to come.