Last week I was browsing the DSHS website. I was looking on what would be a valid call to CPS since they refused to file a report when Jake had to call. I'm frustrated with the whole system. We don't call just because, we only call when there is something that MUST be documented.
I found a website to volunteer for the WA CASA program. CASA = Court Appointed Special Advocates. Basically they provide about 40 hours of training on subjects regarding children who are abused or neglected.
Here's a little information I got off of their website.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a volunteer who is appointed by a judge to advocate for an abused or neglected child in dependency court*.
*Dependency court (sometimes called 'the dependency system' or 'the system'): Dependency court is part of the superior court, and it hears cases about children who have been abused and neglected. In cases where the abuse or neglect is severe enough, the children will be taken out of their parents' homes and placed into foster care.
The CASA volunteer investigates the child's world by talking to the child, as well as to her teachers, parents, relatives, caregivers... anyone who has an impact on the child's life, and then makes recommendations to the court as to what is in the child's best interests. Those recommendations can range from whether the child should return to his parents or stay in foster care, to suggesting counseling services, special education classes, or substance abuse help for the child. The CASA volunteer's only objective is to recommend a course of action that will keep the child safe, and will address the child's unique, unmet needs.
While a child is in foster care, they face a constant rotation of judges, social workers, foster parents, and attorneys, all of whom are often only temporarily involved in the child's life, and for whom that child's case is one out of many. The CASA volunteer, however, commits himself to stay with the case for the duration (very rarely does it happen that the CASA volunteer will change mid-case), and it's a best practice that one CASA volunteer shouldn't take more than three cases at any given time. This means that each child is the CASA volunteer's priority.
Since state law and the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) both require that all abused and neglected children have someone to represent their best interests in court, a CASA volunteer is appointed when available. When a CASA is not available, the court must appoint a paid guardian ad litem or no representation at all.
Last year, CASA volunteers:
- donated approximately 350,000 hours of service to children
- averaged 15-20 hours every month to each child they advocated for
- represented a community value of over $17 million
*Due to a lack of program staff to recruit, train, and adequately support enough volunteers, local CASA programs cannot currently serve every child that enters the system.
In 2008, more than 2,400 CASA volunteers advocated for the best interests of 7,355 abused and neglected children in Washington.
I signed up for it to get further information and see what it would take. I discussed it with Jake and then today I discussed it with my dad when he called. He was really glad that I would do something like that and that it could lead to a career. I've wanted to get into psychology and early child development but I know that I don't and won't have the money to go to a University to do all that. This would be a step in the right direction. I can make a difference in a child's life without paying thousands to have a license. I've thought about it a lot and weighed the pro's and con's.
I wondered how hard it would be emotionally and realized it can't be any worse than watching what our boys go through and they have no one but us fighting for them.
So many children go without someone to stand up and speak for them. So many still will but that would be a few less with the ones I could help.
I worry about how much time I'd lose with Emery and if I'd be too busy with him for a case but it's only 15-20hrs a month on average.
There are so many kids worse off than our boy's. They have Jake and I and our families fighting for them but CPS won't and the courts are too busy to really look into it. I think about all the kids who don't have at least one parent who gives a shit about them and are just bouncing around from home to home or dealing with worse than most.
There's so much more I want to write on this issue but the neighbors kids have been stomping up and down the stairs outside for about 30 minutes and I'm slowly losing my marbles.
I can't get the website to work today but the link is www.washingtonstatecasa.org . I'm sure everyone is busy with their crazy lifestyles, but I'm sure that in your state there are kids who need someone who cares to stand up and speak for them. If you have the time look into in your state and help save a kid.
I'm calling tomorrow to tell them I want to do this and to start the interview and background check.