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CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers like me, to advocate for children in foster care

I am a CASA volunteer. In this role, I have been working with a family of young children in our community who are in the foster care system.

In so many ways, they are typical children. They like jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes and being outdoors. They love preschool and their friends. Most importantly, the children love their Mother and Father; when I first met them, the oldest child sang a song for me: "I love mommy, I love daddy."

My role has been to build a relationship with the children so I can appropriately advocate for them when it comes time to determine where they will live once their time in "the system" is over.

I have been retired for six years and am often asked what I am doing with my spare time. Becoming a volunteer for CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates – is a rewarding part of my answer. I am surprised by the reaction I get – most people are impressed and seem to think it is something they would like to do but can't. I think they can.

CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers, like me, to advocate for children in foster care. To be a CASA, though, takes more than just raising your hand. There is an extensive training – 40 hours in total – to acquaint individuals with the rules and regulations, requirements and expectations of the role.

When I got started, it was a bit intimidating. I had to call people and tell them who I was and what I wanted. This included the case worker from the Oregon Department of Human Services, grandparents, and the mother and father. I then got to meet and visit with the children.

I obviously can't share all the details of my specific case, but I can tell you there were some things that have happened that were hard to hear and at times to comprehend.

The children in my case are luckier than many. They have been placed with grandparents, and their mom is now working hard to stabilize her life. With the assistance of Safety Service Providers the kids are spending more and more time with their mother, including overnights. Soon, the case will be before the judge to determine if making a placement with her is in their best interest. I will report to the judge what I have seen, and what my recommendation would be.

I would like to add that at every turn in this case I have felt supported by CASA staff; they are available to help with any question I have from technology issues to helping locate family members of these kids.

There are 138 CASA volunteers in Central Oregon. Unfortunately, there are more than 400 children in the foster care system in our region, so CASA is looking for more volunteers. There are trainings coming up for anyone interested in exploring this. The time commitment is light enough that you can likely find time in your month. If you are interested, please reach out to CASA at 541 389-1618 or www.casaofcentraloregon.org. If you want a more personal account, feel free to contact me.

Marlys Alger retired after a career in education, as a teacher, counselor and school administrator. She lives in Crook County. In addition to being a CASA volunteer, she serves on the Citizen Review Board and is Vice President of the CLEAR Alliance Board. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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