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"How Casa Jefferson and Louisiana's Children Are Changing Lives"

We met with Rosana Gonzales in an office building in Metairie.

Gonzales is the Executive Director of CASA Jefferson, a national non-profit organization that works with state and local programs

to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive.

“For many of us, CASA is a house, but in this organization, the name CASA means Court AppointedSpecial Advocate.” Said


They help children find their home. they recruit volunteers to advocate for abused children that have been removed from their homes and have been placed in the custody of the state.

CASA or CASA Jefferson for that matter, does not place children in foster homes, they do not recruit people that want to have children in their custody.

CASA is more like the third person appointed by the court that checks on the children and makes sure that

certain things happen.

The Louisiana foster care system needs a lot of resources, helps and federal funds to keep helping kids. There are about 8,000 children in foster care in Louisiana.

These children have been removed from their homes, have been victims of negligence, sexual, psychological, and physical abuse, and are now under the custody of the state. Aside from those numbers, it is suspected that another2,000 to 3,000 kids are victims of such abuses but have never been reported.

The Louisiana foster care system needs more people willing to help, that want to become foster or adoptive parents, people that don’t look the other way, people that believe when children tell them what is happening in their homes.

The system needs the community to step up and help these kids.

“When you want to be a CASA volunteer, you come to our office and take a training course given by the National CASA organization.” Tells us, Rosana.

The training is about 32 hours.

Volunteers learn how the system works, how to work with different income families, different experiences, how to work with domestic violence victims, people with mental problems or disabilities, drug or alcohol addictions.

The training also focuses on making sure the volunteer isn’t prejudiced towards the family we work with.

When the training is over, the volunteer is sworn in by a judge in Jefferson Parish, after that, they meet a staff member that assigns them

with a child in the system.

Now, this volunteer a couple of things to do each month:

-Get to know the child. Learn what they like and what they don’t like. Understand the complexity of their family. You can't advocate for someone you don’t know.

-Look for resources in the community. Find tutors, doctors, therapy, and even family members.

-Report what is happening to the judge. Familiar with what a Social Worker does but the volunteer has fewer cases and can freely advise of resources to use.

“The necessity for bilingual volunteers is now bigger than ever. I’ve been seeing more and more of our non-English speaking community being part of the system.

We have approximately 10% of children in foster care that is from Latino or Hispanic families.” Says Rosana.

The bilingual volunteer has the opportunity to give a little bit more, to explain a little more.

To help that not only that family understand what is happening inside the court,

but also help that the courts, the foster care system, that social worker, and everyone giving services understand the family’s culture and do not create a barrier by saying that they don’t speak the language of the child.

The volunteer can help bring those barriers down and give that family the same resources everyone gets.

If you want to be a bilingual volunteer, call the CASA Jefferson offices at 504-533- 8757. You can visit their website CASAJEFFERSON. ORG, or visit their offices in Metairie.


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