ROANOKE, Va. – You can help abused and neglected children end up in a safe and permanent home. The Roanoke chapter of the national nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is recruiting volunteers.
These trained volunteers are appointed by judges to represent children’s best interests. They act as the eyes and ears for a child in foster care.
As of September 1, there are 5,013 children in foster care in Virginia. The Piedmont District, which covers Southwest Virginia, has the most.
Three Southwest Virginia localities rank in the top ten. Roanoke City is the worst out of any city or county in the entire Commonwealth, with a total of 254 children in foster care making up 5.1% of the entire state.
Lynchburg ranks 6th and Roanoke County takes 10th place for most children in foster care.
CASA with Children’s Trust of Roanoke represents kids all over the Roanoke Valley, even down to Craig County and up to the Alleghany Highlands.
There are currently 45 volunteers. Program Director Sammi Rader would like to double that number to better meet the needs of the community.
“We are the voice for that child. This child has a constant, stable adult in their life where they can share things about school or their home life so we can have their needs met,” said Rader. “We can be their voice in court so the judge has an adequate picture of what actually they are going through.”
“Most volunteers, they just have to have a heart and a passion for helping children,” said Rader.
10 News spoke with two volunteers, Janet and James Morris, who moved to Roanoke from Texas and knew they wanted to continue volunteering with CASA.
“You just have to have a heart for children and want to make a difference because you can make that fit with whatever your schedule might be,” said Janet. “I think it’s important for people to consider it, look into it, and become a volunteer. Our children need us.”
“I encourage everyone I meet. And I talk about CASA with anybody I run into because it’s just, it’s so rewarding,” said James. “It’s such an important role for the children in our community and the families in our community.”
There is still time to apply before the new volunteer class kicks off on Tuesday, September 26.
You have to be at least 25 years old, be able to pass a background check and you’ll need to submit an application. To learn how to apply, click here.