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New team approach available to help vulnerable children

A new option for those seeking to improve the lives of children in foster care can double the impact of their volunteer efforts while also splitting the responsibilities.

The North Iowa Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program has made available a new Co-CASA approach to allow interested candidates to volunteer as a pair with a friend or loved one.

Together, they will complete the application process and attend training. Once assigned a case, they will then share in the tasks, reports, and visits required.

“Becoming a Co-CASA is a chance to be a team and share in changing a child’s story for the better with a spouse, friend, or family member,” said Crystal Engstrom, program coordinator. “They can support one another in their duties while also doubling the impact with two consistent adults providing a voice for children who need it most.”

CASA’s are people from all walks of life who serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court for the children involved in the foster care system as a result of abuse or neglect. The volunteer advocate does an assessment of the child’s situation by reviewing records and talking to parents, social workers, teachers and others who are involved with the child. The CASA champions the best interests of the child, writing a report for the court with recommendations to provide a way forward. They then continue to monitor the child’s progress by regularly visiting the child, participating in planning for services, and attending staff meetings and court hearings.

North Iowa CASA covers Webster County, as well as Hamilton, Pocahontas, Wright, and Humboldt counties.

For more information on becoming a Co-CASA team and serving children in your community, contact Crystal Engstrom, at 866-923-1088 or email crystal.engstrom@dia.iowa.gov.