Gila County — January is National Mentoring Month, and this year Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Gila County is aiming to recruit quality volunteers to connect more of our community’s youth in foster care with caring adults.
National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is highest. With the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement – and become involved in real life.
“Caring, consistent adult mentors can mean the difference between success and struggle for children and young adults,” said Emily Nader, CASA Coordinator in Gila County. “They need to know there are adults who are going to stay with them throughout their journey in the foster care system and help them cope with what is happening.”
Studies have shown that a child in foster care that is assigned a CASA volunteer is more likely to succeed in school, more likely to find a safe, permanent home, and half as likely to re-enter the foster care system.
Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to strive and thrive, to attend and engage in school, and to reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use. In turn, these young people are:
55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college
81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities
78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.
More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.
Yet, only one in six Arizona children in foster care have a CASA volunteer. Today, there are over 14,000 children in Arizona who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.
At the same time, research shows that 44 percent of adults are not yet mentoring but are willing to consider it.
“We are so grateful for each person who takes on the role of a mentor. It is needed. It is important,” said Nader.
Each year since National Mentoring Month’s launch by MENTOR in 2002, it has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress. Other prominent individuals who have participated in the campaign include: Maya Angelou, former President Bill Clinton, Clint Eastwood, Quincy Jones, Cal Ripken Jr., Bill Russell, and Usher.
Become a CASA volunteer today. Court Appointed Special Advocates are everyday community members who donate their time to be the voice for a child. CASA volunteers visit with the children regularly, filling that mentor role. They follow the progress of the child’s court case, interview important people in the child’s life, and report their observations back to the court so the judge can make informed decisions on behalf of the child.
No specific background or training is needed to become a CASA volunteer. Anyone 21 years of age or older, who can pass a thorough background check and complete 30 hours of free training, is encouraged to apply.
For more information, visit www.CASAofGilaCounty.org. Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GilaCountyCASA/.