COLORADO SPRINGS — News5 Investigates uncovered numbers that show El Paso County has more reports of child abuse and neglect than any other county in the state. Child welfare experts say children and troubled parent need the help more than ever to overcome issues tearing families apart. View the investigation here.
CASA of the Pikes Peak Region wants to help recruit 2,020 more volunteers statewide by next year. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates who volunteer work to help children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region provided volunteer advocates to 715 local children who had been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. There are approximately 900 children in the region in need of an advocate each year, and more volunteers will be needed to meet the growing demand.
CASA leaders are on a mission to serve 100% of abused and neglected children in El Paso and Teller Counties with volunteer advocates by the end of 2020.
Anyone over the age of 21 can apply to become a "CASA" volunteer to advocate for these kids in court. They might night have a voice in what happened otherwise. Volunteers meet with kids regularly, learn about their situation and report that to the court. It helps judges make decisions that are in the best interest of the kids.
"There's about 900 children each year who need CASA advocates, we served 716 of those children last year so we have some ground to make up. We're always looking to recruit more community members who want to help us in that mission," said Crystal Erickson, Director of Programs for CASA of the Pikes Peak Region.
To be a volunteer you must also pass a background check. CASA only asks that you commit three to five hours a week through the duration of a child's case which can range from 12 to 18 months.
"They are a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen. They learn about the child. They learn about how they're doing in school, how they're doing in their foster home," explains Keri Kahn of the CASA of the Pikes Peak Region.
You can connect with CASA of the Pikes Peak Regioin by visiting casappr.org