Volunteers needed: How to be an advocate for foster care children in our community

GALVESTON, Texas – The pandemic has had far reaching impacts, but in Galveston County one of the most concerning is the impact on children in the foster care system who have already faced unthinkable hardship in their young lives.

“Many times their life has been chaos,” said Connie Ricketts, Executive Director of CASA of Galveston County. CASA stands for court appointed special advocate. Ricketts and her non-profit organization train volunteers to advocate for children in foster care.

Ricketts says COVID has impacted the number of child abuse reports in Galveston County and her case load has skyrocketed.

“The number of children who have entered foster care in the last 12 months is 100% over this same year as last year,” said Ricketts.

In 2020, Ricketts says they served more than 520 children total. Unfortunately nearly 100 of them don’t have CASA representatives and that’s why CASA of Galveston County is reaching out for help.

“Without a CASA they can languish in the foster care system,” said Ricketts. “A volunteer is just a community member. Someone who has a heart for children who wants to make a difference. You don’t need any credentials.”

CASA of Galveston County volunteers like Cassandra Sutton meet regularly with the children and advocate for their care.

“Just to be that constant voice and constant face for children in foster care,” said Sutton. “It’s very important to volunteer your time.”

Ana Selves has served as a volunteer for more than eight years. While she may be their voice, she says the children she represents changed her life

“They mean the world to me. They are our future. They didn’t put themselves here. They are just victims of what is happening around them,” said Selves.

CASA board members say the need for volunteers in Galveston County is at a critical point and those who sign up will, undoubtedly, alter a child’s path.

“Sometimes that CASA volunteer may be the only kindness that that child is experiencing,” said Thomas Munoz, CASA of Galveston County board member.

You don’t have to live in Galveston County to sign up to be a volunteer advocate. A CASA can come from anywhere as long as they are willing to drive to the Galveston County courthouse for hearings on their assigned cases.

You can also make a difference by donating. Funds are needed to support professional training and supervision that is provided to the volunteers.

More information on supporting CASA of Galveston County through donations or volunteering can be found on the organization’s website.

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