SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A non-profit in Sioux Falls is doing its part to aid families that have children in foster care, with the goal of reuniting the family.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates group, also known as CASA, works with child protection services to be a voice for families.
“Our office gets involved when children are removed and placed into foster care. And then the court system stepped in and files a petition saying that these kids are abused or neglected. Once that petition is filed, we work to attach a volunteer advocate to that case, which would be a family and then we are doing our best to try and ensure that we know what’s going on with that family from beginning to end,” says SF CASA Executive Director Stacey Tieszen.
Volunteers form a connection with the family, to try and get a clear understanding of its situation.
“We say that we’re the eyes and ears for the judge because she can’t possibly do all the legwork involved with a number of cases that come through on a regular basis,” says Tieszen.
“So when a case gets to the dispositional stage where the judge is deciding what to do, how to end the case, do the kids go home, is there a termination of parental rights? Our volunteers, our advocates write a report to the judge and make a recommendation on what we feel is best for the children,” says CASA Program Manager Teresa Stillson.
Most cases average around 18 months, with some lasting longer than three years.
“All of our children have been, you know, they’ve seen a lot of disappointment and chaos in their lives. And we want our volunteers to be that one stable person that actually starts and finishes,” says Stillson.
Tieszen says that they always need more volunteers, as they have around 80 cases right now without a CASA Volunteer.
“So we obviously have the whole gamut from zero to 18 that people can choose from and then also based on their own time commitment and personal interests,” says Tieszen.
“The children that we serve are the most vulnerable children in our community. They need a voice. Without CASA they do not have a voice in court. So we are that voice for the children,” says Stillson.
Click here for more information or to volunteer with CASA.