According to Dallas CASA President/CEO Kathleen LaValle,
“My wish for the 2018 holiday season is for more volunteers to serve as advocates for child victims of abuse and neglect.
“It’s a wish Dallas CASA has wished for before, but it feels especially urgent this year as we are continuing to receive cases from the courts every day but are running out of volunteers to serve the children we are assigned.
“I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa:
“’If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will’
“This is how I often feel about child abuse or neglect. The statistics can feel overwhelming. Last year, more than 4,300 Dallas County children lived in the protective care of the state. On an average day in Dallas, more than six children are removed from home due to abuse or neglect. Dallas CASA served 3,118 children last year.
“But if you look into the eyes of one child, it becomes personal. I’d like to tell you about Kalynn. For her privacy, I’ve changed her name.
“Five-year-old Kalynn cried at night about monsters coming at her with sticks. In foster care, she was safe from her sexual abusers, but memories of an unsafe home visited her every night.
“Married couple Carol and Grant, both CASA volunteers, were assigned to advocate for Kalynn’s best interests. They met a terrified but loving bundle of energy in desperate need of healing. Although attached to her foster family, Kalynn struggled to control her behavior and the family reluctantly asked Child Protective Services to move her to another home. Carol and Grant advocated for specialized training for the family to equip them with strategies to better handle Kalynn’s traumatized behaviors. The family and CPS agreed. After completing in depth training, and with a new confidence in their parenting skills, the family welcomed Kalynn back into their home.
“Today Kalynn has been adopted by her foster family. She continues seeing a therapist. Her behavior at home has stabilized as she’s come to trust her family won’t hurt her. At her adoption this fall, the family embraced each other and their CASA volunteers, thanking them for their dedication to long-term hope and healing for Kalynn.
“Could you serve a child like Kalynn? Could you join our 1,300 trained and supervised community volunteers who stand up for children in foster care? Could you act on behalf of just one of the thousands of children currently living in protective care? Could you join Dallas CASA as we grow to serve every child who needs one caring, consistent adult by his or her side during a frightening, uncertain time?
“There are lots of ways to become involved. You can sign up for an information session to learn more about becoming a volunteer advocate. You could join our Children’s Council, a key volunteer support group that helps with events like the teen prom dress drive and National Adoption Day. You could become a member of Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals group. We welcome you to join us as we stand up one by one for our most vulnerable children.”
* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA