CASA Video: “Couldn’t Believe”
Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma
It is difficult to imagine what life must be like for an abused or neglected child. It is even more difficult to admit that child abuse or neglect is a problem in our area. Many of us would like to believe that it just doesn’t happen here, but it does.
Imagine children in our communities:
- Living in places where violence is the rule rather than the exception;
- Watching their parents slowly killing themselves with drugs or alcohol;
- Living in active methamphetamine labs;
- Being exposed to pornography or adult situations;
- Merely existing – eating food you and I wouldn’t touch, rarely attending school, and deprived of regular medical attention; and/or
- Raising themselves with little or no parental supervision or guidance.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are community volunteers who are stepping up to advocate for abused and neglected children. We are ordinary people. We come from all walks of life.
We are trained volunteers who assist judges in determining what is in the best interest of these vulnerable children. We work in our own communities and we share a common set of values.
We believe in the rights and dignity of children. We are committed to putting that belief to work for children who have been abused or neglected. And we hold ourselves to the highest standards of excellence in service.
Across the country today, we serve more than a quarter-million children. Hundreds of thousands more children need our help.
How can you help? VOLUNTEER TODAY! Use this LINK to learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer!
CHILD ADVOCATES OF NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA/CASA
Child Advocates of Northeastern Oklahoma is a CASA agency. With offices in Claremore and Miami, the organization supports CASA Volunteers in five counties in northeastern Oklahoma – Rogers, Mayes, Craig, Ottawa, and Delaware Counties. The agency also serves the courts of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.
OPIOID CRISIS IMPACTING CHILDREN
CASA programs play a critical role in supporting children impacted by parental opioid abuse.
The following stories are real.
Child victims of the opioid crisis like them live in small towns and in big cities. They come from every state. Some were born in poverty. Most were not.
All are victims of America’s opioid epidemic.
It’s an epidemic that in 2015 alone struck more than 100,000 children across the country, casting them into foster care and court systems already staggering under record high caseloads and budget shortfalls.
Law enforcement, public health officials, and policy makers are scrambling to understand and manage the epidemic. Their job is to find – and finance – a way to contain and treat it.
Courts are struggling to cope with the influx of cases – children coming into the system because of the abuse or neglect set in motion by addiction.
Our job is simpler, but equally important.
Our job is to stand for these children.
“There are four children in all. The oldest was the one who called the police. I’m there to look out for them. I talk with them honestly and get their input. When you gain their trust, children will tell you what’s happening and what they need. Caseworkers generally don’t have time to build those relationships.” CASA VOLUNTEER
“The state recommended putting my kiddo in a van to visit her father for 30 minutes a week. All the attorneys, everybody agreed. Well, she’s been in foster care since they found her in the stroller. She’s only two years old, and it’s a five-hour drive to the jail. So that’s ten hours, round trip, for a 30-minute visit. I had to say, ‘˜No, this just doesn’t make sense.’ The court listened to me.” CASA VOLUNTEER
It takes time.
Right now, more than 86,000 volunteers spend six million-plus hours a year speaking out for the best interests of the 267,000 children they serve. That’s about 40 percent of the children who have experienced abuse or neglect in America.
To give every child one caring, constant adult in their lives, we need to more than double the number of CASA volunteers.
We know we can do it.
It takes money.
The six million-plus hours our volunteers donate each year in communities all across the country is a bargain, but it’s not free. What makes our volunteers so effective is the investment that we make in their ongoing training and supervision.
The issues surrounding opioid addiction are complex. We need to create new trainings and new materials on those issues for all our volunteers. And before we can add new volunteers, we need more supervisors: experienced child welfare professionals who can support those volunteers with advice, expertise, and resources.
Given the return – to the half a million children in foster care and to our society – we’re committed to partnering with donors and investors who can help us make that investment.
It takes heart.
It takes heart to see a child in need and stop to help. It takes heart to stay for as long as you are needed – for that child and every child – day after day, year after year, in good times and bad.
Those who do this work, whether they are volunteers, staff members, or donors, have the heart to see, to stop, and to stay.
Perhaps you do, too. And if you do, this is an invitation to join us, in whatever capacity you can.
Not a single one of us has the power to change these children’s past – what they have seen, what they have done, what they have suffered.
Every one of us has the power to change their future. All it takes is the heart to do so.
For more information about the opioid crisis, use this link: casaforchildren.org/opioidcrisis
CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life. No special experience or education is required. We simply need people who care about children and have good critical thinking skills. Use the link below to learn more about how you can become a CASA Volunteer.
Your contribution will help us recruit, train, and provide support for our network of volunteers who serve as child advocates. Help us ensure abused and/or neglected children have a caring, consistent adult in their lives advocating for their best interests.
A great way to know more about what our CASA agency is doing to make a difference in Northeast Oklahoma is to sign up to receive our newsletter. Give us your name and email address to receive our newsletter once a month.