Rock Island County is now looking for volunteers to help with kids in foster care.
Under this program, people are trained to help advocate for the safety of children involved as victims of abuse and neglect in the foster system.
“We’re meeting with kids. We are supporting them, but we’re also gathering information, gathering facts and then the CASAs write a court report that goes to the judge at every permanency review hearing,” said Program Coordinator Daniel Williams.
At the end of 2021, there were 280 children in foster care in Rock Island County alone, with only 22 active CASA volunteers.
Williams says the goal is have as many volunteers as there are foster children.
While the work that a CASA volunteer does is crucial to the legal aspect of childcare, the personal side is just as important.
“There’s a consistent adult that is there for them throughout the entirety of their case,” said Williams. “We have some volunteers who have been with the same case for over three years.”
Patti Dee Lager has been helping the same kids since she first volunteered in 2018.
She currently is working with the same case she started with under CASA.
“My role as a CASA is to just connect with the kids and just get to know them … keep eyes on them,” said Lager. “It gives me purpose. It gives me something to look forward to. It gives me something to think about other than myself, or my own problems.”
The program provides a sense of stability for kids who otherwise might not have that.
“It’s a pretty big commitment in terms of the emotional commitment, and they’re just here because they want to be here, and I think that there’s something really powerful about that,” said Williams.
Rock Island County is now preparing for spring volunteers.
The next round of training will take place in March, and you must be 21 years old or older to apply.
Sign up or learn more about CASA here.