SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Every child in foster care in our region has someone in their corner thanks to CASA of Northwest Arkansas.
In Springdale, there is a room full of Christmas gifts, getting ready to go out to some special kids.
“We provide Christmas gifts to every child in foster care. So every child who is in foster care in one of our four counties is guaranteed to have Christmas gifts under their tree,” CASA of Northwest Arkansas director of development and marketing Courtney Voigt said.
It is just a small part of what CASA of Northwest Arkansas does.
“We provide a compassionate volunteer for every child who enters the foster care system,” Voigt said.
Last year alone, 728 Children went through the foster care system in Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties. CASA, or court-appointed special advocates, served every single one. They fight for the children’s best interests in a courtroom and on their path to a permanent home.
“Children who come into foster care may have different social workers. They may have different therapists. They’ll have different placements. The casa ideally comes on at the very start of the case and works the case all the way through the end so the kid knows they have one person they can rely on,” Voigt said.
Executive Director Crystal Vickmark says they need more volunteers.
“We need casa volunteers that are representative of the children that we serve. We need Latino advocates. Men. Right now, only 16% of our advocates are male,” Vickmark said.
Anyone can make a good CASA.
“Working full time, working part-time, going to school, stay-at-home parents, we have them all and they’re all successful,” Vickmark said.
People just need to have a heart for children.
“Our research has shown that a child with a casa volunteer who’s going through the foster care system is more likely to do better in school, is half as likely to reenter the foster care system,” Voigt said.
It is working in Northwest Arkansas too, with 105 kids reunifying with their families and 111 others being adopted last year.
If you want to learn more about being a CASA volunteer or getting involved in the Christmas program, click here.