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FLORENCE — May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize the critical role that each person can play in transforming the lives of foster youths in communities, a press release from the Court Appointed Special Advocate program said.

Currently more than 13,000 children are in foster care in Arizona with about 1,100 residing in Pinal County.

Thousands of foster parents, social workers, advocates, professionals and volunteers work to protect and nurture children and find them a permanent, stable place to call home but there is more the community can do to help, the press release said.

“Statistics have shown, when a child in foster care has a Court Appointed Special Advocate who is voicing their needs, they spend less time in foster care,” said Pam Burke, CASA coordinator. “A foster child is surrounded by caring adults who are working to provide services to their family, but a CASA is a consistent adult who advocates for the best interest of the child. We work as a team to help children heal from the trauma they once endured to reach a permanent and safe closure.”

In honor of National Foster Care Month, CASA encourages the community to learn more about the many ways in which anyone can impact the lives of these children.

Some of the suggested ways to make a difference are to:

  • Become a foster or adoptive parent.
  • Volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate to speak up on behalf of foster children in court.
  • Serve on a Foster Care Review Board to review the case status of children.
  • Help spread the word in your community by organizing an event, speaking to a community group or hosting a training.
  • Support the agencies that endeavor to meet the unmet needs of foster children such as Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation or Arizona Helping Hands.

For more information on National Foster Care Month, visit www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/. To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, call 520-866-7076 or visit the website at www.CASAofPinalCounty.org.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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