May is National Foster Care Month and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County, is launching a volunteer recruitment campaign called “I am for the child” to help support the need that every child in foster care should have a voice.

Throughout the month of May, CASA hopes to increase awareness in the community about child abuse and neglect, as well as to encourage community members to volunteer for the CASA program to advocate for a child in the foster care system.

Countywide, over 100 abused and neglected children from ages newborn to eighteen comprise CASA’s priority wait list. These children anticipate being matched with a community volunteer who will advocate for their rights while pursuing a safe a permanent home. CASA hopes to shed light on the urgent need for additional volunteers to provide a voice for children in foster care.

“Children in foster care experience a tremendous amount of uncertainty and change. These children don’t have someone who is stable in their life to speak up on their behalf,” stated Executive Director Kim Colby Davis. “We at CASA of Santa Barbara County challenge you to join the ‘I am for the child’ campaign. Every child deserves to have their voice heard.”

CASA volunteers act as the eyes and ears for the Juvenile Court Judge. After receiving special training and being appointed by a judge, CASA volunteers gather all of the information involving a child’s case and make formal recommendations to the court on the child’s behalf. CASA volunteers make sure children’s interests are represented in court. These children have usually experienced serious abuse or neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to be taking care of them, as well as removal from their homes. They may not only be living with a new family, in a new house, they may also have had to change schools. And they may have met a lot of new adults who have different roles in overseeing their well-being. They could use a caring, stable figure in their lives, and that’s just what CASA volunteers provide.

As a result, children with a CASA volunteer spend less time in foster care and receive better access to support and services. Each child in foster care deserves to have that special someone to advocate for them. If you want to help children in Santa Barbara County, become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.

For more information visit www.sbcasa.org or contact Outreach Coordinator Tara Gross at (805) 739-9102 ext. 2595 or email volunteer@sbcasa.org.