BY CATHERINE E. TAYLOR, J.D.
Los Alamos Magistrate Judge
Often times we hear news stories about children in our foster care system that make us shudder. We wonder how does this happen. What can be done? How can I help?
While not everyone is in a position to be a foster parent, almost any one of us can be a voice for children in the foster care system.
CASA—Court Appointed Special Advocate—is a national program operating in every state which trains volunteers to be the voice for a child caught up in the court system through no fault of their own. These children are too often the innocent victims of abuse and neglect. A CASA is assigned exclusively to the child and advocates their best interests. It doesn’t mean a judge or the attorneys will just do what the CASA says, but it ensures the child has a say, even when they cannot speak for themselves. Sometimes, a CASA represents a baby, sometimes a teen, but regardless, a CASA, with the training and support of a nationwide and local network of volunteers, makes sure the child’s interests are heard and considered.
CASA is hosting a Young Professionals event in Santa Fe next Friday, February 10. I encourage anyone between the ages of 22-40 interested in this philanthropic networking event to attend and at least hear more about the valuable work CASAs do in our communities for kids that otherwise might not have a trusted adult looking out for them. You don’t need to have any specific experience or even know how courts or foster care systems work! You just have to care and be willing to speak up for a kid.