At the age of six, Pamela and her sister spent cold nights sleeping in the back of a U-Haul with no blankets. They didn’t know when they would eat. One night, Pamela’s mother awoke the girls suddenly and yelled at them to hide under a car in the parking lot. When a police officer pulled Pamela from her hiding place, she watched as her parents were arrested. She remembers watching as the police car left and her mother “faded away.” This is how Pamela became a foster child.
Fortunately, a CASA volunteer was assigned to be a voice for Pamela. “When you’re a child, no one listens to you, especially in the foster care system.” Pamela describes her CASA volunteer as “a light at the end of the tunnel. She was everything in my life – I didn’t have anybody.”
“To give a child a CASA is to give them a voice. To give them a voice is to give them hope. And to give them hope is to give them the world.” – Pamela Butler, former foster youth
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Capital Area CASA Association serves East Baton Rouge Parish and trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children living in foster care. CASA volunteers represent the best interests of abused children during juvenile court and child protection proceedings. The CASA volunteer serves as an independent voice to speak solely for the child.
CASA volunteers get to know the child and talk with everyone involved in the child’s life to gather facts about the child’s history and current situation. Using this information, the volunteer submits recommendations in a report to the juvenile court judge.
Since most CASA recommendations are accepted by the court, children with CASA volunteers are more likely to find permanent homes and spend less time in foster care. CASA volunteers also ensure that children’s needs are being met while in state custody.
Children are continuously entering foster care, so CASA always needs volunteers. No special background is required – CASA provides training and support every step of the way. Volunteers typically spend 10-15 hours per month on their advocacy work. The first step to becoming a volunteer is to attend a 45-minute orientation session.
Upcoming CASA Orientation Dates
All sessions take place at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave.
Wednesday, May 31 @ 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 3 @ 10:00 a.m.