Because their identities are kept confidential, you rarely see the faces or hear the names of abused children entering foster care unless a tragic turn of events ends their lives and lands them in the news. That’s why Dallas CASA is kicking off the national court-appointed special advocate program’s Stand Up for Abused Children campaign by displaying 850 life-sized cutouts symbolizing half the number of kids in Dallas’ foster care system on any given day. With the goal of attracting more volunteers to advocate for these children, CASA unveiled the exhibit at John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza yesterday with a press conference that included Mayor Tom Leppert, Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill, Dallas County Judge Jim Foster and others.
There are roughly some 2,000 kids in Dallas’ foster care system, either awaiting permanent adoptive homes or the inevitable “aging out” at 18, says CASA executive director Beverly Levy, and only 375 or so CASA volunteers to mentor them and represent their interests in court.
“We’re only representing about half the kids who need us,” Levy tells Unfair Park. “What we’re trying to do is make people aware that there are so many kids awaiting homes who need help, and we’re the only volunteers who help these kids in court.”
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Children who do have the benefits of a CASA volunteer tend to do better in school and have better chances of beating the dismal statistics that face most kids who age out -- alarmingly high levels of homelessness, drug addiction and even mental disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. --Megan Feldman