The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 8, 2013

Help CASA help children

The Commercial-News

---- — Help CASA help children

To most of us, society’s problems such as poverty, abuse and violence seem overwhelming. What can we do to end these cycles that trap generations of people? We are tempted to turn away because it feels like trying to stop a windstorm: an impossible task.

Yet a couple in the Danville area is doing something. They have generously pledged to double-match donations given to the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Vermilion County up to $10,000. This program recruits, trains and guides volunteers who monitor for the court the lives of children placed in foster care.

Why are these donors doing this? Because they know children in these situations are 53 percent more likely to become juvenile delinquents and 38 percent are more likely to become violent criminals as adults. They are more likely to become homeless and to abuse and neglect their own children. But statistics have shown that many children who had a CASA when needed have moved on to happy and productive lives.

A CASA volunteer maintains contact with the adults in the foster child’s life, monitoring his or her well-bring and identifying the best possible permanent home, either returned to rehabilitated parents or adopted. Their reports help the judge make good decisions for the child’s future in a timely manner.

The CASA volunteers make a difference in the lives of our community’s most vulnerable citizens. They help the child through this traumatic experience, which helps break the cycle of violence and abuse.

You can make a difference, too.

Please join in this effort by donating to the CASA program before Dec. 31, the deadline for the matching offer. Your dollars will increase threefold when you send a tax-deductible donation to CASA of Vermilion County, 101 W. North St., Danville. You can contact director Katalyna Thomas at 446-5975 with any questions. Further, you may want to become one of these everyday heroes; advocate training takes place a few times each year.

Your donation will help children right here in our own area. So far in 2013, nearly 150 Vermilion County children have become wards of the Juvenile Court, bringing the total to more than 300 children whose cases are still active. These children have done nothing wrong. They simply have parents who are unwilling or unable to care for them.

Don’t turn away. Cycles can be broken. It is easy to say, “Nothing can be done,” but the truth is we can help children have brighter futures.

And that helps us all.

Lois Gholson of Danville is a CASA board member.