In Mesa County, more than 10 out of one thousand children are abused or neglected. That number is higher than the state's average. While the court system tries to help each one the best they can it's often a volunteer from casa who helps the most.
CASA stands for court appointed special advocates; these volunteers are sworn in as officers of the court and play a key role in helping abused and neglected children who are taken from their parents.
At any given time more than 350 children living in Mesa County are in foster care, many taken from abusive parents, leaving them to wonder who will take care of them.
Shirley Rowe with CASA, says, "What is more important than where a child is going to live the rest of their life?
CASA trains volunteers to be a voice for any child taken away from their parents by the court. Rowe, says, "Our volunteers give a face and a name to a child."
Volunteers are assigned one case at a time and have one goal. Judge David Bottger says he tells new advocates one thing, "To be the eyes and ears of the court and the voice of the children."
Judge Bottger knows first hand how important these volunteers can be since he assigns each volunteer to child. The volunteers work with that child, their parents, neighbors and relatives to determine the best place for the child to live.
"They can give us an unvarnished objective view of what's going on and that could be critically important in making a decision that's best for these kiddos," says Judge Bottger. CASA says the best solution for these kids is to send them back to their parents but understand it's not always possible. 85 percent of child cases handled by CASA involve parents who were hooked on meth.
While there are 960 CASA programs around the country each one provides their own funding, through fundraisers and help organizations like the United Way. Rowe says, "We have to have the support of the community to survive."
Wednesday June 10th, KKCO 11 Cares and Boston’s are teaming up to raise money for CASA.
The 11 Cares team will be out there all day helping serve drinks and food and Boston’s will donate 15 percent of their profits to CASA.
And CASA’s annual golf tournament is this Saturday June 13th. There's still time for teams to sign up. Call 242-4191 to sign up.