The COVID-19 pandemic has left many reeling as livelihoods, schedules and institutions have been turned upside down. This is nothing new for children in foster care. Already at greater risk than their peers to not graduate high school, these young people in the system now have less consistency in their education than ever before. The important visits they count on with siblings and family have at times been suspended, further isolating them from what they know and love. And remember, these are children who have already been though a lot — too much. Their lives were chaos long before COVID.
What we do at CASA of Yellowstone County is provide volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates for these kids while they grow up in foster care. In a time of inconsistency and turmoil, a child’s Advocate is their constant — a stable adult who will stick with them through every crisis, every change, until they finally have the safe and permanent home they need. Codified in state law, the job of a Court Appointed Special Advocate is a critical responsibility within our communities and society, which makes it all the more incredible that these duties are conducted entirely by people on a volunteer basis, without compensation.
Unfortunately, since the onset of COVID-19, we have seen a precipitous decline in the number of interested adults stepping forward to take on the role of an Advocate. We still have many children in local foster care, with more entering the system every day. We now have an increasingly greater proportion of children waiting for someone to fill that place in their lives. Without a Court Appointed Special Advocate, in many ways, these children have no voice.
We believe that with the partnership of local churches and the selfless individuals, that make up their congregations, we can begin to reverse this trend. Please — please — talk to your pastor, your parish office, or someone of authority within your faith community, and find out whether there is an opportunity for our organization to connect with members of your congregation. We would love to have someone from CASA speak at an upcoming service, Bible study, or even host an information session over Zoom for anyone who may be interested in learning more.
If you need any questions answered before talking to your church leadership, you can call CASA of Yellowstone County at (406) 259-1233 or email our Development Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of the children we hope to serve with your help, thank you. ?
Ben McKee is a Court Appointed Special Advocate with CASA of Yellowstone County.