Did you know that every nine minutes a child becomes a victim of abuse and neglect in Texas? Every day, 52 children enter foster care in Texas, totaling over 19,000 children in 2016.

With more than 48,000 children currently in care in our state, 60 percent of victims are 6 years of age or younger. Throughout the state of Texas, Court Appointed Special Advocate programs have served more than 28,000 children. These children have the specialized voice of a CASA volunteer to support them and advocate for their best interest. Are you ready to volunteer to speak up for a child?

Today, over 160 children are being served by CASA of Galveston County. CASAs are volunteers who dedicate time to help children placed in foster care due to abuse or neglect. These children, through no fault of their own, have been displaced by abuse and neglect, and need a safe, consistent adult in their lives as they cope with large amounts of change that they cannot control. Children in foster care may suddenly move to a new home, a new school, a new family, and begin new routines. These children benefit greatly from the presence of an advocate, someone who has their best interest in mind above all else.

Children with a CASA are more likely to find a safe, permanent home, are half as likely to re-enter foster care, are less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, and are more likely to have a plan for permanency. These children also do better in school than those children who do not have a CASA, they are statistically more likely to pass their courses, and less likely to have poor conduct or be expelled from school.

CASA of Galveston County is currently serving 69 percent of children in Child Protective Services custody. Our goal is to provide an advocate to 100 percent of children who enter foster care due to abuse or neglect — you can help! I invite you to inquire about being a voice for these children in our community; they are our next-door neighbors, our school children, and the future leaders of our community. They need you!

Prospective advocates are interviewed, background checked, and provided 30 hours of initial training, including training in court procedures, laws related to abuse and neglect and the role of a CASA. Advocates commit to two years of service, and are provided opportunities for further learning and consultation throughout their advocacy.

Join me for an information session about what it means to be a CASA at 5 p.m. today or noon Dec. 5 in the McCullough Room of Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy St., in Galveston. Visit www.CASAgalveston.org to learn more about CASA of Galveston County, or email me at kathryn@casagalveston.com.

Every child has a chance — it’s you.

Kathryn Holmes is the recruitment and training coordinator for CASA of Galveston County.

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