Child Advocacy Services shorthanded in St. John

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Anytime is a good time to help children.

But Henri Rowe, supervisor for CASA in Southeast Louisiana, is using April as a special time to remind people about how easily they can help kids by becoming a volunteer.

CASA, an abbreviation for Child Advocacy Services, is a private, non-profit agency which offers advocacy services for children and families in 10 area parishes, including all the River Region.

CASA is particularly used by judges who appoint these advocates to work with children who have been abused and neglected, as they navigate their way through the court system.

Volunteers in CASA become advocates for these kids, also after they have been placed in foster homes.

Rowe used April, which was proclaimed “CASA Month” by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, as a time to make an extra plea for more volunteers to her agency.

“We always need more men or women to help with these kids,” she said to the LaPlace Rotary Club recently. “It is very rewarding work to become someone these kids can trust and lean on.”

CASA volunteers also make monthly visits to a home where children have been placed.

Currently in St. John there are 25 cases, but only 15 volunteers working, meaning more volunteers are needed.

“You don’t need social worker experience or anything like that,” Rowe said. “We put you through a training course to prepare you. We just need people who truly care and love children.”

CASA volunteers work for the best interest of abused and neglected children, and need only one to two hours a week to research a child’s case, before making monthly visits to see the child.

Volunteers also attend court proceedings to speak on behalf of the child, and serve as a stable and unbiased figure in the child’s life.

In Louisiana, there are currently 5,050 children in foster care, and in the last year statistics were reported in 2005, there were 13,999 validated cases of abuse and/or neglect in Louisiana involving children.

To find out more about becoming a CASA volunteer, contact their main area office in Hammond at 985-902-9583.