The Gateway CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children, of the 3rd Judicial District has started a new program, Project Impact. CASA, a volunteer-powered network of committed people- from all walks of life- who believe society has a fundamental obligation to these children.

            Project Impact is a program that focuses on teenagers who will stay in foster care until the age of 18. The goals include help develop life skills, promote higher education, provide a support system, encourage positive behavior, build character, set life goals, help stop the cycle and prepare them for life after foster care. This newest program within CASA takes the next step helping the children within the foster care program, the teenage years. CASA is looking for individuals from the community who can provide guidance, encouragement, and a support system. According to the Advocate Coordinator, Margaret Price, “We are in need of volunteers. The qualifications are not stringent and training is provided. Jackson County needs volunteers and foster homes.” The foster care system is overburdened and the child welfare system, though full of well-intentioned and deeply committed people, cannot meet the needs of the more than 660,000 children in the foster care in the United States.

            Most people assume there must be a program or system that will take care of these children and make sure they are treated with dignity, given a safe place to live, so they can recover from their hardship and be a child again. Unfortunately, there are not enough volunteers. According to Ms. Price, the amount of time needed is between 5-10 hours a month to help a child through CASA.

            If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, please call 870-623-2060, email a.parish@gatewaycasa.org, visit the website: gatewaycasa.org, or find on Facebook: Gateway CASA.