500 CASA volunteers needed for San Diego's foster kids - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

500 CASA volunteers needed for San Diego's foster kids

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If you'd like to help a foster child, but can't adopt this may be the perfect match for you. There's a big need for volunteers to become court appointed special advocates.

The time commitment is relatively small – about 10 to 15 hours a month, but the impact you could make is immeasurable.

For 11-year-old Sofia, the highlight of her time in foster care has been her outings and adventures with Barbara, her court appointed special advocate or CASA.

"It's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life," said Barbara.

Barbara has been Sofia's CASA and the one constant presence in her life for the past two and a half years.

They talk about life, school and they see each other two to three times a month. They keep their memories alive in an illustrated journal they work on together.

"We do all sorts of fun things like going to museums. We go to the Reuben H. Fleet, this summer we went to the Aquarium out of Stephen Birch. I try to expose them to all different sorts of educational things," explained Barbara.

So what makes a casa different from a mentor? Casas are sworn in as officers of the court and act as an invaluable advocate for their foster child at court hearings.

"They write court reports and go the child's court hearings every six months, but the CASAs also interact with the child's teachers, with their counselors and anyone who is involved in the child's life," said Jennifer Morrissey with Voices for Children.

Voices for Children, the group that provides CASAs to San Diego's foster kids, says there is a huge need for volunteers. They are hoping to recruit about 500 CASAs by next July.

With the goal of having a CASA for every foster child, since a CASA's impact can be life changing.

"Children who have CASAs tend to do better in school and are more likely to find a home or be reunited with their family," noted Morrissey.

Like in Sofia's case, she has been matched with a forever family, but her bond with Barbara will be lifelong.

"I've been really blessed the parents are going to allow me to still be involved in her life, because I want to see her graduate from high school and then college," said Barbara.

If you're interested in adopting, call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U.

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