Sioux Falls Area CASA Program is a court-appointed voice for abused and neglected children. The program relies on volunteers, who are recruited, trained and supported with continuous guidance from CASA staff. CASA volunteers review documents and records pertaining to the child’s case. They interview adult family members and other adults in the child’s life. They meet with the child at school, daycare, for lunch, at the foster home, and at supervised visits. The volunteer completes written reports for the court.
Last year, 275 cases (families) were eligible for CASA services in the Sioux Empire. Of these, 116 were assigned a CASA. One CASA volunteer provided these notes on their recent case:
5 children, ages 2-8, with another baby on the way. The family is fraught with domestic violence, drugs and poverty. Mom and dad aren’t bad people; they are simply living what they learned. Mom can’t break away from dad and neither of them can/will get the help they need to stop the cycle.
In my 15+ years with CASA, this case has been my hardest case emotionally. Seeing the children’s reaction/lack of reaction to the domestic violence breaks my heart. After a recent incident where dad assaulted mom and also hit the 4-year old, I was with mom and the 3 younger children as they were seen at Child’s Voice and then as mom and all 5 children were taken to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety for the night to assure their safety. Throughout the events of this afternoon/evening I did all I could as:
- The 8- year old completely withdrew. He learned of the assault as he returned home from school, immediately grabbed an electronic device and literally spend until he went to bed that evening on the device, not willing or able to engage.
- The 5-year old also learned of the assault as he returned home from school. He could not settle himself and continued to climb/jump on furniture, not hearing those around him trying to help him.
- The 4-year old, who had also been hit by dad in the most recent assault on mom, was inconsolable if mom was not within her sight.
- The 3-year old fell asleep leaving Child’s Voice, slept through the ride home, the ride to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety and the entire intake at Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety which took a little over 2 hours; her way of coping.
- The 2-year old never missed a beat, as if this was normal, just another day in her life.
This is just one example of the chaos many children right here in our community are enduring each and every day. We continue to do all we can to support these children, to encourage them and to assure they grow up in a safe, loving & nurturing home. We do all we can to help break this ugly and destructive cycle.
CASA volunteers continue their roles, visiting children virtually, preparing their court reports, and ensuring abused and neglected children continue to have an advocate. Sioux Falls Area CASA staff have moved new volunteer interviews and trainings online. If you’re interested in learning how you can become an advocate for abused and neglected children, visit www.siouxfallscasa.org.