Over the last six months, Columbia Gorge CASA has added eight new advocates to its team of volunteers. These volunteers have helped the program serve over 60 children experiencing foster care since the beginning of the year. These are children that were given a voice in court because of the support of our community.
The countless hours given by CASA's volunteers and the financial contributions of members of the community are an investment in the next generation of the Gorge. The advocacy provided by CASA helps ensure that every child experiencing foster care in Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman Counties has the opportunity to transition successfully into adulthood. Studies have shown that children with a CASA volunteer tend to perform better academically and behaviorally, have fewer placements, and are more likely to achieve permanency.
CASA's primary form of advocacy is through submitting court reports to present judges a fuller picture of what is happening in the child's life. Volunteers devote hours getting to know the stories of the children for whom they advocate and then carefully crafting reports to supply the court with an understanding of that child's everyday life. While DHS workers tend to maintain a broader and more clinical overview of the case, CASA volunteers are able to focus solely on the children, painting a more detailed account of their perspectives, hopes, and needs. These reports contain both observations and recommendations regarding the best interest of the child.
Sometimes, the contributions CASA provides children are seemingly small, such as gifting a child glow-in-the-dark stars to help them feel less afraid at night, especially in new surroundings. Other times, CASA’s input completely changes the direction of the court case by equipping the judge with a clearer picture of the child's needs. Whatever the contribution may be, it is never too small or too large in bringing support to our community's most vulnerable children.