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I am for the child who has attended eight schools in four years, because he is in foster care. Because his birth mother, debilitated by mental illness, neglected him. I am for him. The child who almost died. Who now sits, surrounded by strangers, in the back of yet another class, failing, because he is without glasses and nearly blind.

So I am there for that child. To listen to him. To stand up in court for him. To speak for him. To champion without compromise for what’s in his best interest. Because if I am there for him, I know he will be half as likely to languish in foster care, and that much more likely to find a safe, permanent home. That is the child I am for. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

Being a CASA is a life-changing experience. CASA volunteers work with families, social workers, attorneys and judges to ensure safe, permanent homes for these children. They commit to a particular case and visit monthly with the child or children involved. They also attend all court hearings on the case and monitor its progress. They spend an average of 8 to 12 flexible hours a month per case and work with the courts closest to where they live.

CASA’s training schedule for 2013 and application are available on their website. CASA of New Hampshire invites all interested individuals to learn more about the program, download the application, or view the statewide training calendar at, or to call 800-626-0622 for more information.

(Diane Valladares is the training and recruitment coordinator for CASA of New Hampshire.)

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