By Mark Hiller PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) A local non-profit is working to give abused and neglected children a voice. It's called CASA of Luzerne County. CASA stands for court appointed special advocates.
Although CASA has been around nationally for nearly four decades, it's only existed in Luzerne County three years. Officials say the local group is growing and making a meaningful difference in the lives of vulnerable children.
A woman's voice can be heard in a public service announcement for CASA saying, "I am for the child who's had seven addresses in a single year." The girl depicted in the PSA needs lifting up. She is a victim of abuse and neglect. "Unfortunately, I believe it is a big problem and I think it's significant in a sense of just the numbers," said CASA of Luzerne County Advocate Supervisor Sandy Serafin.
Ms. Serafin said CASA of Luzerne County is currently helping more than 40 neglected and abused children countywide. CASA relies on volunteer advocates who undergo 30 hours of training and 10 hours spent observing court cases and procedures. "We're looking for someone with a big heart and a willingness to devote time to neglected and abused children," she said.
Unlike Children and Youth Services which may assign a caseworker to several families, Each CASA advocate deals with one family at a time. Ms. Serafin said, "I think what it does is it just provides a little bit more attention to the children."
The mission of CASA requires money so the group is in the midst of planning a major fundraiser. It's holding an end of September event called CASAblanca - a night of casino tables and delicious cuisine. "Funding for non-profits is a real challenge these days," said Volunteer Advocate Will Conyngham who encourages the public's support. "You've got to do all you can to strengthen the resources of your cause," he said.
CASAblanca is happening Thursday night, September 29th, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Tickets are $95 each. You can learn more about the event or volunteering by clicking here.