NEWS

Give the Gift of Time to a child in need

Contributed Report

As we choose the perfect gifts for our loved ones this holiday season, LouisianaChildren.org urges you to remember that the gift of your time and support could change the life of an abused child.

LouisianaChildren.org is the statewide association that supports Child Advocacy Centers of Louisiana and Louisiana CASA, serving 33 member programs in all 64 parishes in Louisiana. Our programs serve more than 11,000 children every year and reach more than 25,000 families and professionals.

According to Dr. John Wyble, executive director of LouisianaChildren.org, CASA programs statewide have an immediate need for volunteers who are willing to speak up for abused and neglected children and make recommendations to the court system on their behalf. Wyble estimates programs need an additional 2,000 volunteers across the state to be able to serve 100 percent of children in foster care.

 “This holiday season, please consider supporting our agencies with the gift of your time to a child in need,” Wyble said. “Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our programs. Even with the tremendous support we have now, we desperately need additional volunteers who are willing to speak up for children and ensure they receive much-needed services and the bright future they deserve.”

Ashley Alis, executive director of CASA of SoLA, notes her agency, which is based in Lafayette, only serves about 36 percent of children in need of CASA volunteers. There are more than 300 children in foster care in the three-parish area of Acadia, Lafayette and Vermillion served by CASA of SoLA.

 “The volunteer becomes the child’s voice for whatever they need,” Alis said. “Not just the big things like whether the child should go home to mom or dad, but for all the other things like staying on top of doctor visits and school work, and helping maintain important relationships with family members, including siblings.”

Meanwhile, child advocacy centers statewide depend on volunteers to take on many different roles to support centers as they provide a safe, child-friendly atmosphere to conduct forensic interviews of children who have suffered sexual abuse. Volunteers support fundraising efforts, provide office assistance, and operate a crisis hotline.

“We help victims become survivors,” said Carole Carson, program coordinator/ director of Pine Hill's Children's Advocacy Center in Ruston. “Investing in the life of a child has a way of changing your life, as well as providing hope for the future of that child.”

LouisianaChildren.org urges you to learn more and become involved in changing the life of a child though volunteering or giving financially. To learn more about programs in your area, visit LouisianaChildren.org, e-mail info@louisianachildren.org or call (888) 567-2272.