KCBY, Mar 30, 2009
In recognition of April as Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Coos County program will host its annual Lights of Hope candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, at the Coos Bay Boardwalk
This year for the first time, CASA of Coos County will host the Forgotten Children display – featuring representations of the many children in our community and around the U.S. that need a CASA volunteer to fight for their best interests. These life size stand-up displays bear actual messages from foster children gathered from a recent national study commissioned by the National CASA Association. These powerful messages include statements such as “8 foster homes,” or “My CASA is always there for me.”State Rep. Arnie Roblan will speak about the devastating effects of child abuse on our community, and Arlene Roblan, Principal of Madison Elementary School, will discuss the needs of children she sees on a daily basis and her interactions with children in need. The South Coast Peace Choir also is expected to perform.“Nothing touches your heart more than helping to change the life of a child from one filled with hurt to one full of hope,” Twila Veysey, CASA Director. “Everyone in our community can do something to help fight child abuse – whether its becoming a CASA volunteer, donating funds to help us train more volunteers or by attending the Lights of Hope candlelight vigil – there are ways for everyone to stand up for children in need.”CASA, a program of Oregon Coast Community Action, gives vulnerable children a voice in court by advocating for their best interests and helping children to be placed in a safe and permanent home. This program fills a vital need in Coos County and currently is advocating for about 164 local children, but this is only about half of the children in Coos County that need a CASA.
On average, foster children spend more than two years in the child welfare system, and can be moved as often as 15 times, negatively impacting their education, friendships and sense of belonging. However, children with a CASA volunteer advocating for their best interests are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, less likely to move from one foster home to another, and are 95 percent less likely to re-enter the foster care system once placed in a safe, permanent home by the state.
“Every child in our community deserves a CASA,” said Mary Schoen-Clark, CEO of Oregon Coast Community Action. “To make sure our children, our future, don’t slip through the cracks, we rely on supporters and our dedicated CASA volunteers. Please consider how you can help make sure our local children have a bright future.”
CASA of Coos County is a program of Oregon Coast Community Action, the Coos County Commission on Children and Families, and the National CASA Association. Oregon Coast Community Action provides services that feed, house, warm and educate vulnerable individuals and children throughout the South Coast. For more information, those interested can visit www.orcca.us.