ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Right now there are more than 1,100 kids living in Bernalillo County who are stuck in the middle of court jargon, legal battles, and experiencing so many other things that are out of their control. Luckily, there’s a special group of volunteers who go to bat for them when they need it most.
Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASAs help kids find calm through the noise after being removed from an unsafe home and placed into CYFD custody. Volunteers donate five to 10 hours of their time every month to help a child or children, often siblings, on a CYFD case assigned to them by New Mexico Kids Matter. They take time to meet them at school, at their foster homes, and during their therapy sessions to get a big picture view of what’s happening in the child’s life. CASA volunteers are often the most constant person in a foster care child’s life, offering a life raft to kids in need.
“If you can imagine being transferd from one family to another to another, but… to have someone that’s with them through the whole thing, that’s why this work is so important.”Bob Cody, NM Kids Matter CASA Volunteer
Volunteers like Bob Cody work to learn what’s best for the child through observation and care. They stay with the child through the completion of their case, helping them to feel safe in some of life’s most daunting moments, like giving a court testimony about their home lives or moving to another foster home. Cody says it’s important and passionate work, that gives kids a better chance in life.
“It’s just nice to spend time with him and to know that he’s doing okay.”Bob Cody, NM Kids Matter CASA Volunteer
CASA volunteers go through a vetting and extensive training process so they can help kids who might otherwise have gotten lost in the system. Unfortunately, there are only about 100 registered CASA volunteers, meaning out of the 1,126 kids in foster care here in Bernalillo county, only about 250 of them were able to be helped by the program in 2019.
Right now, NM Kids Matter is working to recruit new volunteers, with a special focus on Spanish speakers. Below you’ll find a video message from a bilingual volunteer who wants all Spanish speakers to know, they can help too, even if they don’t speak any English.
To learn more about the training that goes into becoming a CASA, or about the time commitment it takes, click here. To give a monetary donation to New Mexico Kids Matter, click here. To learn about other ways you can help this organization and the kids in the Bernalillo County foster care system, click here.