For many of us, Valentine’s Day is our chance to show our affection for the important people in our lives through cards, flowers and other gifts.

But candy and cards will be the last thing on the minds of many of the children in the foster care system who will be facing this special day away from their friends, families and other loved ones.

When a family is in crisis and a child is placed in the child welfare system, they often live outside their own home and away from their home community. Though they have done nothing to deserve it, they face challenges and unforeseen consequences as the result of abuse and neglect.

If they are in foster care, they tend to move from placement to placement and school to school – running the risk of losing touch with the people who were significant in their lives.

Volunteers with the CASA Program advocate for these children, ensure they are safe and cared for, and support keeping them connected with their communities, families and loved ones while they are in foster care and beyond.

“Studies show that one of the key indicators for child well-being is the presence of committed adults in their lives,” said CASA coordinator Kathy Fritz

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers are everyday people who are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child or sibling group in the child welfare system. CASA volunteers get to know the child on a personal level and communicate with everyone involved in their life, including family members, foster parents, social workers and others. They work with those on the case to build and strengthen a lifetime network of family and other committed adults who will support the child and each other even after the child’s time in foster care ends.

Last year, 35 CASA volunteers served 90 children in the child welfare system in seven surrounding counties, but over 200 children still need a volunteer to help advocate for their best interests.

Every child deserves to feel loved, supported and connected this Valentine’s Day and beyond. Become a CASA volunteer and help give a child and family a better chance at a brighter, happier future.

For more information, visit www.casaiowa.org, email kathy.fritz85@dia.iowa.gov or call 712-749-5184.

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