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Letter to the Editor: May is National Foster Care Month

By Crystal Engstrom, Program Coordinator, CASA of North Iowa, Mason City

May is National Foster Care Month, a time designated to acknowledge foster parents, family members, mentors and child welfare professionals for the support they provide youth in foster care. It is also a time to consider how you can personally make a difference in the life of a child in foster care.

The Court Appointed Special Advocate program of North Iowa needs volunteers.

According to numbers from the Iowa Department of Human Services, 80 children from Floyd County are in foster care, and advocates with CASA can directly affect the experience those children have within the system by giving them a voice and ensuring they are heard.

CASAs are trained volunteers who are appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of children that have often been removed from their homes following abuse or neglect. CASAs visit the children at least once a month and talk with others involved in the child’s life, including social workers, foster parents, teachers and family service providers. They put what they learn into a report for the judge and attend hearings to support the child and answer any questions.

A CASA can expect to give anywhere from 5 to 10 hours a month, however, this can fluctuate depending on each case. To become a CASA, a potential volunteer will undergo 30 hours of pre-service training and a background check. They also make a commitment to 12 hours a year of continuing education.

For more information about volunteering, contact me, Crystal Engstrom, at 866-295-5262, or email me at crystal.engstrom@dia.iowa.gov. You can also visit the state website www.iamforthechildiowa.com.

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