PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Maricopa County has the highest number of children in foster care than ever before, and the county is in need of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers who help make sure these children can end up in a safe, permanent home.
CASA are volunteers that speak to a judge in court, on behalf of an abused or neglected child in foster care. In Arizona, there are currently over 18,000 kids in foster care, with only a little over 1,000 CASA volunteers. In Maricopa County, there are reportedly close to 12,000 children in foster care, but only 500 CASA volunteers.
"Children with CASA volunteers are less likely to reenter the foster care system, they're in foster care a shorter period of time, they receive more services," said Nancy Molever, the state's CASA program manager.
Molever said recently, CASA of Arizona has received a $200,000 grant from the National CASA Association, to help fund four new positions in Maricopa County.
"Four new position means each of those coordinators can bring on a hundred new volunteer advocates," said Molever. "Each of those volunteers can advocate for one, two, three, four, five kids, and it's huge for the program because it means growth in Maricopa County CASA."
Part of a CASA's role includes visiting the child twice per month, and contacting everyone involved in the case to get a real feel on what's best for the child.
Prospective CASA volunteers must go through 30 hours of training, and then have a coordinator help you through every step of the way. There are two information sessions planned, one on March 9 for people in the West Valley, and one on March 23 for people in the East Valley. To learn more, click here.