Now is the time to help young victims

I am urging you to take the challenge today to become involved in protecting the rights and welfare of children in our state who are victims of abuse and or neglect.

Many blame DCYF and our Legislature for the appalling number of these cases on court dockets today. Recently, it has been in the news that DCYF has been functioning for years with inadequate funding and staffing. It is unfortunate that it has taken some extreme abuse cases in the last few years to get the state to finally take notice and give approval for increased funding. The courts, too, are overburdened due to a shortage of judges for family court, which causes delays, leaving children in vulnerable situations far too long. Attorneys asked to take these cases will sometimes refuse partly due to poor reimbursement rates and a distaste for working with these vulnerable, sometimes difficult family dynamics.

It is so easy to be outraged and do nothing, relying on the state to fix the problem. Now more than ever, the children in the system need your help. With a path toward a stable home and tools for a better life, children can be saved from the perplexing cycle of poverty and neglect. None of us can choose our parents or the socio-economic status we are born into, but every child has the right to a happy and productive life.

I am urging you to give of yourself, your love and life experience toward making a positive impact on a child’s life. Join me in becoming a CASA volunteer.

Court Appointed Special Advocates is the organization in our state that serves the courts by advocating for children who have been identified as victims of abuse or neglect. You will become part of a network of volunteers who want to be sure their kids have a voice and that it be loud and clear. Training and support are provided continuously, and you will be in good company; many CASAs are retired professionals such as nurses, teachers and lawyers.

Each case will require 10 to 15 hours per month and can be managed by a working professional. You will work closely with DCYF and the court, but yet, you are independent of them as you form your own opinions about what is best for the child. CASAs help relieve the heavy caseload burden of DCYF and are the eyes and ears for the judge. CASAs are esteemed and welcome partners to judges who know the worth of what we do.

There are ongoing trainings for new volunteers around the state, including one in Manchester beginning May 2. For more information, visit Now is the time to be involved, as the current opioid crisis has left many children with unstable homes and fractured families. Do your part to alleviate a child’s suffering and your life will be enriched beyond imagining.

Mary Ferguson