The Webster Court Appointed Special Advocate program will be recognized with many others throughout the state as a senate resolution declares Thursday as CASA Day at the State Capitol.
Senate Resolution 45 formally recognizes the need for the CASA program through the Volunteers for Youth Justice. CASA volunteers are specially trained to be the voice for an abused or neglected foster child in the court system.
“The Volunteers for Youth Justice CASA program, which covers Webster, Caddo, Bienville, Jackson and Bossier parishes, currently is assigned to 345 children, and of those children, 134 need a volunteer,” Sandra Samuel, CASA program director, said. “That said, I am so grateful and thankful that CASA would be honored with this day, because the voice of these children that have been neglected and abused due to no fault of their own needs to be heard. I am proud to be a part of a program that desires to make this happen.”
Webster CASA Supervisor Amber Bradford said she is elated the state is recognizing CASA in this way.
“Our children are our greatest assets and CASA strives to make sure the children we serve have a voice, so I am so grateful to be part of this amazing organization,” she said.
“Since the Senate has passed this resolution for CASA Day, it just goes to show that all of the United States understands the need for CASA and how these abused and neglected children need a voice more than ever.”
District 8 Sen. John A. Alario Jr., R-Westwego, authored the resolution.
“The mission of CASA is to give every child who has been abused or neglected an opportunity to thrive and establish permanence with quality advocacy from a CASA volunteer, and nationwide local CASA programs recruit, train and support volunteers in their work with abused and neglected children,” according to the resolution.
April is also Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and more than 600,000 children were abused or neglected across the nation in 2015. In Louisiana, 10,781 children are victims of neglect, 1,960 are victims of physical abuse, 677 are victims of sexual abuse, 60 are victims of psychological abuse and 38 are identified as other. These numbers are actually larger because some victims experience more than one type of abuse.
Bradford said in the north Louisiana region, there are 552 children now in foster care.
The cost of child abuse and neglect is $1.2 billion in Louisiana, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Hospitals.