Springdale, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As a result of abuse or neglect, hundreds of children in our area end up in foster care. For some of the older children, the reality is many will never be adopted.
The numbers are eye opening.
“We can’t forget about these young people,” CASA Director of Development Colleen Smith said.
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northwest Arkansas, or CASA, helps 600 kids in the foster care system. 160 of those children are over 14-years-old.
These are the most vulnerable, they have probably suffered the most abuse in their household. They’re going to have the most extensive trauma,” Smith said.
They face different challenges.
“Although we would love for them to find permanent homes and be adopted or reunified with parents, the reality is that it’s unlikely,” Smith said.
So just in case, CASA helps them work toward independence.
“Financial assistance for college, how to get their drivers license, how to get into their own apartment,” CASA Advocate Supervisor Amanda Wilkerson said.
Volunteer CASA advocates like Linda Davis are there for the trying times in court..
“A CASA can be the one person who believes in them, sticks with them, just advocates for them,” she said.
But she is also around for all the other moments in life.
“One of my teens recently got the prom dress. Celebrate those things like getting their drivers license as they mature. It’s imparitive to have that one person,” Davis said.
That one person to help them learn what it means to be an adult.
“We’re just here to shed some light on those things they might not think about because we want our kids to successfully transition to adulthood, not just survive,” Wilkerson said.
For kids in foster care, there are a lot of moving pieces.
“They may be moved to a different foster home, they maybe have different dhs workers periodically, different counselors and therapists,” Davis said.
But she and CASA are always there.
Casa offers classes and programs to help teach the kids to become indepenedent. If you’d like to learn more or get involved, click here.