CASA Challenges Community to Remember “Forgotten Children” with National Child Abuse Prevention in Woodruff Park
In 2009 alone, the Georgia foster care system served 16,300 abused and neglected children. On Friday, April 16, as a part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will hold a “Forgotten Children” event in Woodruff Park to raise awareness for these children and challenge the community to give them a voice as volunteer advocates. Five hundred life-sized child displays will fill the park, symbolizing the average number of Georgia children who entered foster care each month in 2009.
Each of the 500 cutouts bear actual messages from foster children gathered during a national study commissioned by the National CASA Association – a network of more than 1,000 local community programs that recruit and train citizen volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in state care. Between 2008 and 2009, 2,037 CASA volunteers throughout Georgia advocated for 8,707 children.
“When I entered the foster care system as a teenager, I was timid and afraid. I felt like I had no control or say about what was going on around me,” says 23-year-old Brittany Jean of Atlanta, now a member of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families Advisory Board. “My CASA volunteer really listened and gave me the courage to speak up for myself. I directly credit my CASA volunteer with ensuring that I found a safe home where I could thrive and become who I am today.”
CASA volunteers have been proven to lessen the frequent upheaval that negatively impacts foster children’s education, friendships and sense of belonging. Children with a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care or re-enter the system once placed in a permanent home.
In addition to the April 16 event in Woodruff Park, Atlanta will play host to the National CASA Conference from April 16-19. More than 1,400 CASA volunteers, staff and board members from around the country will be on hand to discuss emerging issues in child welfare and child
advocacy. Judge Glenda Hatchett, recognized authority on juvenile issues and star of the hit television show Judge Hatchett, will provide the keynote address for the conference.
For more information on how you can be a CASA supporter or volunteer, contact Georgia CASA at 404-874-2888 or visit www.gacasa.org.