Today, this inspiring young woman is working toward her master’s degree at Georgia State University and is a vocal advocate for improvements to foster care. She has also kept close ties to Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the organization that provided the volunteer advocate who helped make her future so bright.
CASA is a national network of trained community volunteers who are appointed by judges to advocate for the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children. Organizations like this are a perfect example of how regular individuals can help abused children. Research shows that children with caring CASA volunteers by their sides are significantly more likely to find safe, permanent homes with fewer than 10 percent returning to the foster care system.
This week, more than 1,400 of these advocates from around the country will be in Atlanta for the National CASA Conference and to raise awareness for local foster youth with a “Forgotten Children” demonstration in Woodruff Park. On Friday, 500 life-sized child displays will fill the park, symbolizing the average number of abused and neglected Georgia children who entered the foster system each month during 2009. I encourage every member of our community to visit the display to understand the need for volunteer advocates to give these children a voice.
As a community, we must stand up for these children and actively embrace the old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Only by working together to prevent both the causes and the tragic results of abuse can we truly ensure these children are not forgotten.
Glenda A. Hatchett presides over the nationally syndicated TV show “Judge Hatchett” and is formerly the chief presiding judge of Fulton County’s juvenile court system.