MASON CITY, Iowa – Two to one, that is approximately the ratio of children to volunteers in a special advocate program in Iowa.
The group is called “CASA”, or the Court Appointed Special Advocate program and the idea is to pair children in the foster system with a volunteer, whose main goal is to talk to and get to know the child and their circumstances.
Katie Thorenson is the program assistant and says that this system not only is an easy and rewarding way to give back to your community, but it changes the life of the child you’re paired with because of what you can help them accomplish.
“It gives the child of voice it gives somebody who can speak for the child in the proceedings and recommend maybe what the child needs or also recommend what they feel would be the best placement for the child,” Thorenson said.
Currently, there are not enough volunteers in the program to meet the need so officials involved, like Thorenson, are looking for new people to help out and donate a little bit of their time.
“CASA volunteers come from all walks of life,” she said, “they don’t have to be professionals in social work or in the law, we have CASA volunteers from all professions and backgrounds and even education levels.”
Because of the increase need for volunteers, the program is hoping to double the number of helpers they have over the next two years.
Volunteers are expected to donate an average of ten hours per month so that partnerships can stay together throughout the child’s case and trial.