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Letter: Volunteers can make difference in kids’ lives


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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Amber Garlick

Columbus

I am writing today to bring attention to a local organization, Advocates for Children, which provides one-on-one volunteer advocacy and support for kids involved in the child welfare system.

I think we can all agree that children are inherently valuable and that they deserve love, happiness, safety, security and people who show them unconditional, positive regard. We like to operate under the assumption that all children in our communities live according to this ideal.

It may surprise you to know that more than 250 children in Bartholomew County, through no fault of their own, are involved in the child welfare system each year. That is enough children to fill The Commons playground and food court to capacity.

These children are our neighbors. Some of them sit next to our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren in classrooms, cafeterias and churches, while others are infants or toddlers. Many have experienced multiple foster home placements and school transfers. Too many lack relationships with adults they trust and people whom they can count on to be there for them throughout their time in the system.

I was attracted to Advocates for Children because of the opportunity to be a constant, consistent, continuous support for a child who has experienced far too much pain, loss and inconsistency in his or her short life. As children, most of us had at least one adult we could always rely on to love us, fight for us and make us feel safe, secure and special. Without a court-appointed special advocate (CASA), some children don’t have that person.

Imagine being shuffled through a complex system at a young age after being removed from the only life you know. CASA volunteers help ease some of that fear and worry experienced by the kids they serve and work to ensure access to basic needs, such as doctors’ visits, homework help and a safe place to sleep. If you are looking for an opportunity to positively impact the life of a child in need, please consider becoming a CASA.

The time commitment required to be a CASA volunteer is only 10 to 15 hours per month, time spent providing individual advocacy to make a profound difference in a child’s life. Volunteers help fill a substantial gap in services by being the voice of a child who is otherwise voiceless.

Children with CASA volunteers:

Perform better in school than those without.

Are connected with more resources that contribute to their overall mental and physical health.

Are half as likely to re-enter the system compared to children without a CASA volunteer.

Spend less time in foster care.

Volunteers make a remarkable difference every day, but there aren’t enough volunteers to go around. Too many children in Bartholomew County today are voiceless and will remain so if we do not take action. Readers, I urge you to contact Advocates for Children at 812-372-2808 or www.apowerfulvoice.org and ask how you can become the voice of a child today.

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