Letter To The Editor: Christa Horn

The story that scares me the most is the one I don’t know yet.

In the 24 years I’ve been part of CASA, whether as a volunteer or as Program Director, I’ve heard countless stories of children’s lives being changed because they had a CASA volunteer. As a CASA volunteer myself, I’ve even been lucky enough to be a part of some stories. It never gets old — the stories of how the trajectory of a child’s life was literally changed because a caring adult decided to make an impact, and I never tire of hearing from our incredible volunteers about the difference they are making.

There are the small, uplifting moments, when a volunteer gets the first hug from a 5-year-old child after two months on a case. There are stories of the tragedy kids have endured, years of chaos – unimaginable abuse and neglect. Then there are the stories of hope, as families heal, and children are reunited with them. Or the inspiring stories of the many new families who are created through adoption.

Every story of abuse or neglect that these children carry with them is heartbreaking. Sometimes it makes us angry. I’ve worked with volunteers with tears in their eyes as they read the reports. Our children are in crisis. Yes, I say our children. Because if they are not our responsibility, who should we assign that to? We worked hard last year to make sure that 59 children in Bourbon County who had experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect had their life changed by having a CASA volunteer to advocate for them. We knew their stories — because they had that person who stood by them through the storm, through the chaos of being a child in foster care.

I’m hoping you will join our team this year and support kids right here in our community. The harsh reality is that right now, there are 47 children whose stories we don’t know, children who are in need of a volunteer, but there are no volunteers available. We know how they entered the foster care system; we have the reports from the social workers outlining just how traumatic these children’s lives were.

But there is so much more we need to know. We need to know: • What’s going on with each child? Have they visited their parents lately? • How are they doing in whatever home they are currently placed in? Is there anything they need? • How can we help heal the trauma they have suffered? Do they need therapy? Do they have all the necessary resources? • Are they up to date with medical and dental needs? • What is happening at school? Do they need tutoring or a specialized plan for education? • How can we assure that they continue to be safe? And so much more — what is their favorite color, their hobby, a sport they love to play? And what scares them? What keeps them awake at night?

That’s where the CASA volunteer comes in. Without a volunteer on the case, the CASA’s Court Report is missing from the court hearing. There’s nothing to replace it. That’s the missing piece that keeps me up at night. I know the power of the CASA’s Court Report — I’ve seen it so many times, I’ve submitted reports myself and watched as the Court ordered CASA’s recommendations.

But with the number of children without a CASA volunteer, I wonder about the child whose story is still missing a hero. What child is sitting there, surrounded by chaos, wondering who to talk to or who to call? Their stories continue on, whether they have a CASA volunteer or not. Will you be that child’s volunteer? Will you answer the call?

If you are interested in becoming a voice for a child, I encourage you to contact Bourbon County CASA at (620) 215-2769 or email [email protected].

Christa Horn

Program Director

Bourbon County CASA

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