Imagine a six-year-old girl who has been moved to six group homes and three schools over the past two years, or a toddler separated from her siblings during the most vulnerable time in her life. Think about the 18-year-old who is handed all his belongings in a plastic bag because he aged out of the system. Stories like these occur over and over again in America’s foster care and child welfare system.
In Pima County alone, there are over 3,000 abused and/or neglected children who have been removed from their homes for various reasons: domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and neglect. In many instances, children are shuffled through our current foster system without experiencing a consistent positive adult relationship—someone who truly knows and understands them.
Changing a child’s story is the work of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Pima County. A CASA is a professional volunteer, trained and certified by the Arizona Supreme Court and appointed by a judge to advocate for a child in need.
The Democratic Club of Quail Creek (DCQC) hosts two speakers for CASA at our Dec. 19 Zoom meeting. Angie McBride is the current program recruiter for CASA of Pima County. She has worked in the child welfare field for the past 10 years, supporting children and families through the dependency court process. Angie’s passion for children and families comes from her own personal history within the foster care system as a child and the professionals and volunteers who entered her life. She is a strong advocate for the CASA program and believes that every child is one caring adult away from becoming a success story.
Also joining us is Linda Koral. She is the executive director of the CASA Support Council for Pima County, Inc., a 501(c)(3), as well as a qualifying foster care charitable organization in Arizona. While working full time, Linda volunteered as a CASA in northern California. It was a rewarding opportunity that allowed her to reach out and advocate for foster children who had no one else to speak up for them and to be an independent voice to the court regarding their best interests. When she retired and moved to Tucson, it was her goal to become a CASA here. She has been a CASA for 15.5 years and a peer coordinator, who is a mentor for new CASAs. In 2010, Linda joined the board of directors of the CASA Support Council. She implemented a tutoring program for CASA children, which proved to be extremely valuable for the CASA children. In January 2020, she became the executive director, managing the day-to-day work efforts to support the CASA children and the CASA Program of Pima County.
Please join us Dec. 19 for the DCQC Zoom meeting at 3 p.m. Go to DCQC.org for information on joining us.