STEPHEN HEMELT — You can be the voice for child who needs to be heard

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 21, 2021

Approximately 90 volunteers are working in Jefferson County to provide a voice for children in need.

In fact, according to CASA of Southeast Texas, those volunteers and staff members are serving more than 220 children from newborns on up the age ladder.

Many of those children in need are from Port Arthur and Mid County, and it is reassuring to know CASA of Southeast Texas is working for those who, many times, aren’t old enough to help themselves.

In a nutshell, CASA of Southeast Texas has a goal of providing a volunteer for every foster child in Jefferson County.

The CASA volunteer meets with the child, gets to know the girl or boy and represents the child’s best interest in cases of abuse and neglect.

CASA has never stopped advocating for children through the coronavirus pandemic because the need never ends.

In fact, there have been more recent removals, officials said, and CASA needs volunteers more than ever. Without CASA volunteers, the children have no voice.

CASA Executive Director Liz Woods told me every child deserves a chance, and nothing is more basic than that.

All children deserve to grow up in a stable and loving home that is going to provide for them and care for them in an environment free of abuse and neglect.

Every child deserves that.

In the face of such a basic need, Woods said it is inspiring to find volunteers within the community willing to give up their time to advocate for children on their behalf, knowing it’s not going to be easy.

Woods said all advocates want the end result to include the child going back home through a family reunification.

And when the court can’t send a child back home, just being able to place that child with a loving family through a possible adoption can benefit many for years to come.

“The end result is we want to make sure the child has the best outcome,” Woods said. “Our volunteers are trained to be able to recognize what is the best outcome.”

When CASA of Southeast Texas officials interview potential volunteers, they actually ask what their preferences are. Meaning, the volunteers outline the age group they want to work with and if they are OK with children being placed in the county or out of the county.

“We’re able to better match the kids with the volunteer,” Woods said. “The reward is you get to rest easier at night knowing you made a difference in the life of a child or children. You can feel good knowing they are safe and they are going to grow up and live a healthy life.”

The next training class is scheduled during the month of September.

If you are interested in learning more, start by visiting casasetx.org.

For more information about becoming an advocate, call the local CASA office at 409-832-CASA (2272).

 

Stephen Hemelt is the president of Port Arthur Newsmedia, which publishes The Port Arthur News, panews.com and other products. He can be reached at stephen.hemelt@panews.com or 409-721-2445.