On Father's Day, fathers, grandfathers and others who act as father figures are honored with barbecues, gifts and other family traditions. But for children in the foster care system, Father's Day can be a day of sadness.
Removed from their homes due to evidence of abuse or neglect, these children spend Father's Day in foster homes, group homes, residential treatment centers and even psychiatric hospitals. Children in foster care rarely get to see their fathers on Father's Day. Too often, they do not get to see them or know them at all.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers can help Father's Day be a time of celebration for these children. CASA volunteers are community members who are trained and then appointed by courts to advocate for the needs of a child in foster care. They work to guide children through foster care and into safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
"Our volunteers advocate for reunification with the child's family and if that's not possible, placement with the child's extended family," said Ann McAlpin, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County Executive Director. "Unfor-tunately, sometimes a safe relative cannot be found. That's when CASA volunteers work to help place the child with a caring adoptive family."
Roger Macauley has been a CASA volunteer for three years. As a CASA volunteer, he provides a strong, positive male role model by encouraging the children in school, following up on his promises to advocate for their needs and helping them through their struggles in foster care. Macauley's number one goal is to help the children find a permanent family.
"Roger is speaking for children who, through no fault of their own, end up in foster care. We need more CASA volunteers like Roger!" McAlpin said.
In 2012 there were 870 children in the child protection system in Montgomery County, half of whom are boys that lack consistent male role models. Currently there are only 135 CASA volunteers and too many children have no CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interests.
"Every foster child should have a volunteer, but right now we don't have enough adults stepping up," McAlpin said.
Become a CASA volunteer and help children in need find safe, permanent homes. For information, visit www.CASA Speaks4Kids.com, email info@CASASpeaks4Kids. com or call 936-441-5437, ext. 209. The next training begins Aug. 6.