SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The Great Rotary Duck Race is 10 days out, and hopefully everyone has bought a ticket. A single ticket will help protect foster children.
Some boys and girls in Lane County that have gone through the foster care system have found a permanent home; but, there are hundreds who haven’t yet.
A case worker, a perfect stranger, will walk up to the door and tell a child they’ll have to come with them.
“Then he’ll be transported to his foster home, meet his foster parents for the first time, sleep in a strange place. He won’t have his superman sheets on the bed, won’t have his toys, he might only have the clothes on his back, he won’t know if he’s ever going back to his parents,” said Sarah-Kate Sharkey, CASA of Lane County.
Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA, has 190 volunteers watching out for children. More are in the training process.
Below the wall of faces at CASA of children who’ve been adopted it says:
“To give a child a CASA is to give them a voice. To give them a voice is to give them hope. To give them hope is to give them a world.”
It’s written by a former foster care child, David Davini, who’s been at CASA for about 6 months.
“My case has several children in it and they’re all in one foster home, and it’s a relative foster home and it’s a good situation for them,” Davini said.
Davini got involved after watching his niece in California be taken from her mother twice.
“In watching that situation from afar, I never felt that my niece got the representation or the advocation that she needed,” Davini said.
California and Oregon have similar problems. Caseworkers, attorneys and the system all overburdened. David and other volunteers get to know the children’s schools, their teachers, things that may be working well as well as things that need adjusting.
“They’re able to give really personalized attention, know everything that’s going on in that child’s life and make the best possible recommendations to the judge for what that child needs. Helping to move them towards a safe permanent home as quickly as possible,” Sharkey said.
The Great Rotary Duck Race is allowing more kids to have a CASA; money raised will pay for CASA training, bring in volunteers and consistency to kids that consistently bounce around.
“The great thing about CASA volunteer is that with all these constant changes, they stay a constant presence in that child’s life because kids get moved from foster home, to foster home, to foster home,” Davini said.
He did not get involved for the reward; but, he says it is.
“It is really rewarding when you can make a difference in a child’s life and you can actually see a result that maybe wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t there,” Davini said.
But he is there, in there world, giving them that voice, that hope and a world.
The average CASA, or volunteer spends 15-20 hours a month working. The goal this year is to recruit and train 60 new CASAs. Recruiting and training a volunteer costs $1,000. If you can’t volunteer, you can still help by buying a duck for $5 at any Bi-Mart or Dari-Mart stores. The race is on October 12.