SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Empire United Way supports dozens of local organizations including the Sioux Falls CASA program. The Court Appointed Special Advocate program helps protect and serve abused or neglected children in KELOLAND. It’s changing its operations during the pandemic while celebrating 25 years of being heroes for kids.
Diane Bauch has been a Sioux Falls CASA volunteer for 14 years.
“It’s kind of my pay it forward to my parents because I did have that wonderful life and every kid should have a life like that,” Bauch said.
Bauch is passionate about advocating for abused or neglected children in the courtroom and foster care setting.
“I meet with the parents. I watch visits at the Family Visitation Center. I talk to their teachers, their counselors, anybody that’s currently involved in their life to determine what’s going to be in the best interest of this child’s life,” Bauch said.
“When kids are removed because of abuse or neglect and get put into foster care, our office gets assigned. As much as we would love to have volunteers for every single one of those, we simply don’t,” Tieszen said.
According to CASA, there are 256 children on a waiting list. That means they could use more than 140 volunteers to help out.
Training is done online right now because of the pandemic. Executive Director Stacey Tieszen says Sioux Falls Casa is adapting like it has for the past 25 years.
“Here we are. More than 3,888 kids have been served. More than 671 volunteers have done time with us giving their hours and hours,” Tieszen said.
“I have had children that have told me I have made a different in their life. So it’s very, very rewarding and at the same time it’s very, very sad what these children have gone through and there’s so many kids waiting for an advocate,” Bauch said.
Tieszen says training for the next group of volunteers will start soon. If you’re interested, click here.