Special to the Mountain News-WA from the Pierce County Juvenile Court:
The Pierce County Juvenile Court is recognizing National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign, where pinwheels will be planted across the Juvenile Court lawn and throughout Pierce County during the month of April. The pinwheels symbolize the fun and carefree childhood that every child deserves.
We will also be taking the time to show our appreciation for the work that Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) and Guardians ad litem (GAL) do for our communities most vulnerable youth and to encourage others to consider becoming a CASA volunteer. April is National Volunteer Month.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are trained volunteers who ensure that children in the foster care system are heard and that their best interests are served. We currently have over 250 CASAs who advocate for children and we hope to raise awareness about child abuse as well as gain more volunteers to help prevent child abuse and neglect.
CASA Kelsey was the advocate for four children between the ages of 4 and 9. They were placed in foster care because their mother Lily’s addiction to methamphetamine overpowered her ability to be an attentive parent. All four children told Kelsey over and over how much they loved their mom and wanted to go home. Kelsey truly believed that the very best thing for these kids was to be back home with a healthy, drug-free mom, so she set about advocating for such. Kelsey removed any obstacles that were preventing Lily from getting into treatment. As the mom put it, “Kelsey made me feel like she believed in me before I believed in myself and I held on to that feeling throughout the case.”
Ultimately, all four children were returned to Lily, who now helps other parents make their way through the Child Protective Services and foster care system on their way to reuniting with their children. Lily says, “I know Kelsey was my kids’ CASA, but I call her “my CASA” because without her on my case, we would not be together now.”
CASAs receive at least 30 hours of pre-service training, as well as ongoing training, and they serve under the supervision of a CASA Coordinator. CASA trainings are held nearly every month throughout the year. The CASA Program invites you to visit their website at piercecasa.org and on Facebook – Pierce County CASA.
For more information about the CASA Program, please call Carrie Appling at (253) 798-3837.