Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press
TIMES PHOTOS BY JONATHAN WHITAKER

We can help our foster kids graduate, and succeed

BY CATHIE LANCASTER

CASA Executive Director

It’s June! This is the time for Grads and Dads! Sadly, many of the foster youth in Merced County do not celebrate either graduation or Father’s Day.

However, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Merced County is doing their best to change that. Did you know that only 10 percent of high school seniors who are foster youth go on to college? Of that 10 percent, only 2 percent graduate from college.

CASA knows that foster youth do better with an advocate!

CASA is proud to share that they have five foster youth in college who have advocates! This year they have nine seniors in high school who have advocates and every one of them will be graduating from high school! A huge thank you to the wonderful advocates for helping their youth and a big applause to the students for persevering when at times it felt like the world was against them.

At CASA they know their volunteers make a difference; they see it every day and graduating seniors are only one of the ways they know advocates make a difference.

Would you like to help make the difference in the life of a foster child?

It is not pleasant to think that child abuse and neglect is happening at this moment in our beautiful community, but sadly, it is. Right now, there are over 600 children in foster care in Merced County. There are 120 CASA volunteers working with 154 foster youth, which means around 450 foster youth do not have an Advocate on their side.

It has taken years of growth to get to this point, but CASA has only just begun! CASA of Merced County was founded in 2009; they will celebrate 10 years of providing service to foster youth in Merced County in 2020. CASA is happy to be able to provide volunteers to advocate for the abused and neglected children in foster care; they cannot slow down. CASA recently sworn in eight new advocates and the next class starts June 24.

Each week, more children are added to the wait list at CASA. They come from homes where there is drug abuse, mental health issues, violence, the list goes on. The thing that keeps CASA staff awake at night is the story they do not know, when there is no volunteer for a child. What does the child need? Is the Child receiving the medical treatment or school support he or she needs? Does the child have the ability to have fun and just be a carefree child? Therefore, CASA will keep efforts strong and continue with the goal of every child in foster care having the benefit of an advocate.

If you are a CASA volunteer reading this – THANK YOU! If you know a CASA volunteer, I hope you will join us in thanking them! They are heroes in our community doing critical work every day. If you are a CASA donor – THANK YOU – CASA cannot do their work without your support.

If you would like to become an advocate or a donor, please go to the CASA of Merced County website at: mercedcasa.org, or call 209-722-2272.

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