The effects of domestic violence are far-reaching; not only for the partners involved but also for the children who have witnessed it. Witnessing violence by seeing, hearing or observing the aftermath can leave children feeling anxious, fearful or angry. In some cases, when domestic violence occurs in the home and the children are unsafe, the children must be removed from their homes and placed into the foster care system until it is safe to return.

Children in foster care need someone who will be there every step of the way to advocate for them. A child who has been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect may go through multiple homes, schools, case workers, therapists, etc. Court Appointed Special Advocates are compassionate adults who fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family. CASA volunteers are the one consistent, caring adult in these children’s lives.

On any given day, there are over 13,500 children and youths in Arizona living in foster care, with relatives, group homes, shelters or residential treatment centers due to being removed from their parents’ care. There are over 1,000 children in Pinal County who do not have a CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interests.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn the warning signs of domestic abuse and find a way to provide resources to a survivor in your community. CASA of Pinal County is always in need of volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. No specific background or training is needed to make a difference in a child’s life. CASA volunteers usually spend about 15 hours per month working on their case and are asked to remain on the case for its duration. Anyone 21 years of age or older who can pass a thorough background check and complete 30 hours of free training is encouraged to apply.

Learn how you can become a CASA volunteer by visiting www.CASAofPINALCounty.org, call 520-866-7076 or email PINAL@courts.az.gov.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please seek help now. Arizona has many local programs that provide safety, counseling, legal help and other resources for survivors and their children. See below for resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233

Arizona Sexual and Domestic Violence Helpline, 602-279-2980 or text 520-720-3383

www.ACESDV.org, local and national resources of domestic and sexual violence services and shelters

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Donna McBride is supervisor of the Pinal County Court Appointed Special Advocate Unit.

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