Nevada’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) need more volunteers
According to the Nevada CASA Association, 1,900 children suffer from abuse or neglect each day.
On CASA Day, March 16, the Nevada Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) meet with Nevada legislators in hopes of gaining their support to fund and recruit more volunteers to speak in court on behalf of the safety and well-being of abused or neglected children, while also bringing attention to child welfare issues.
CASAs are ordinary people from various backgrounds who are sworn in and assigned by a family court judge to advocate for the well-being of children in foster care. The Nevada CASA Association is one of eight local organizations serving ten of the state’s seventeen counties.
These special volunteers advocate for children’s physical, educational, medical, emotional and social needs. They spend approximately eight to 10 hours each month on their case, which involves talking to the child and contacting parents, social workers, attorneys, teachers, family members, foster parents, and health professionals.
“With more than 4,000 children in care on average in the state, we always have a need for new CASA volunteers,” says Jane Saint, executive director, Nevada CASA Association, in a press release. “With families encountering additional stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, the need for more caring adults to invest in children in care continues to be urgent.”
Seven hundred and forty CASA volunteers served 1,274 children across Nevada in 2021. The volunteers spent over 1900 volunteer hours, with a potential cost savings of $3,400 to $5,000 to the state due to their volunteer service. Sixty-seven percent of the cases with CASA volunteers ended in adoption or reunification with parents.
When Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer to serve as part of a child’s case, they establish a relationship with them, learn their unique history, and are asked to continue working with the children until they have a lifelong home. Less than 10 percent of children who worked with a CASA volunteer had to re-enter the foster care system.
“Every case is different, and there aren’t always easy solutions to help these children,” says Lorrie Curriden, who has served as a CASA volunteer for 28 children over two decades, according to a statement. “My door is always open to children I’ve helped in the past, and it’s a privilege to be that phone call, because you realize you’ve made an impact and they feel they can depend on you.”
Jasmine, a Nevada teenager who was one of the 28 cases assigned to Curriden as a CASA volunteer, appreciated having a CASA. She encourages others to consider volunteering.
“[Curriden] is always there, always texting me. It feels nice to always have her around me,” says Jasmine in a statement. “Not only did I grow with Lorrie, but I feel Lorrie grew with me as well. And who doesn’t want to grow? Do it because you care, and if you care, I think you gotta be a pretty great person.”
If you are interested in volunteer opportunities, go to www.nvcasa.org/get-involved/.