CASA Helps Kids In The Big Horn Basin
Written by Mac Watson on April 1, 2023
Child abuse is a tough subject. It’s not enjoyable to talk about how there are more than 3 million child abuse cases reported in American every year. It’s not fun to discuss how abused and neglected kids are 11 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior as an adult. It’s not comforting to learn that about 80 percent of 21-year-olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
April is child abuse awareness month and one local agency that is important in the life of a child who is in foster care is the Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, of the fifth judicial district, here in the Big Horn Basin. CASA volunteers are specially trained to work on behalf of children in foster care to ensure that children receive the care and services they need.
CASA of the fifth judicial district supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy, so that abused and neglected children who live in the Big Horn Basin can be safe, establish permanence, and have the opportunity to thrive. A volunteer from CASA is assigned to a child by a judge as well as a Guardian Ad Litem. These Special Advocates speak for children who are in the system during their court process. It is not easy to learn the circumstances of what these children go through, but a CASA volunteer advocating for that child makes a big difference. Children with a CASA volunteer are half as likely to spend time in long-term foster care, defined as more than three years in care.
Allison Forke has been an advocate for 6 years and became an advocate to not only be involved in the community but also make a difference. “I can be a voice for kids when they don’t have a voice. The joy is I get from being an advocate is when you start to see [the kids] thriving and that they can trust you and feel safe. Like they count.”
To bring awareness to their cause, CASA is placing blue and silver pinwheels around town in front of businesses or in store-front windows. “Pinwheels are supposed to catch the eye and be child-like.” The pinwheel is the national symbol for CASA,” says Brandi Gann, director of CASA of the fifth judicial district. “We’ll put them in businesses on [Sheridan Avenue] here in Cody, we’ll take them to Powell, the courthouse, the chamber, and any business that would help us spread awareness.”
CASA volunteer advocates helped change the lives of 242,000 children in the year 2021 nationwide.
CASA volunteers play a unique role on behalf of some of our most vulnerable children. Studies have shown children that have a CASA advocate are more likely to have a permanent home, and succeed in school. Those children are half as likely to reenter the foster care system.
You can support CASA by purchasing a raffle ticket at the CASA office located at 1308 Rumsey Avenue in Cody. Tickets are ten dollars and prizes are donated by our local businesses. The grand prize drawing is April 27th.