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Candles symbolize children in need

By Randy Strong

The Orange Leader

 

C.A.S.A (Court Appointed Special Advocates)  held their 3rd annual candlelight vigil Monday evening in front of the Orange county courthouse.

C.A.S.A. is a national association in the United States that supports and promotes court appointed advocates for abused and neglected children in order to provide children with a safe and healthy environment in permanent homes.

During 1977, Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup was faced with making decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children with only the information provided by the State Child Protective Services. Soukup formulated the idea that volunteers could be dedicated to a case and speak for the children’s best interest. Fifty volunteers responded to his idea, which started a movement that provides better representation throughout the country.

Today there are more than 70,000 advocates serving in nearly 1,000 state and local program offices nationwide. Because of these volunteers,  each year nearly a quarter of a million children are assisted through C.A.S.A. services.

One of many speakers at Mondays vigil, program director Kayla Bishop,  explained the local C.A.S.A program, which serves six counties in this region, currently has over 150 children who do not have an individual advocate assigned to them and there are 46 just in Orange County alone. Every lit candle symbolized the life of a child who is currently in an abusive or neglectful situation and that child is someone who needs help.

“Let’s imagine a world where every child gets the attention and help that is needed,” Bishop said. “Imagine there were no more flames that needed our help.”

In 2016, 222 children lost their lives to abuse and neglect according to CASA. The number of children is 51 higher than the previous year.

“The tragedy,  however,  is that there will always be a child in need. We can never stop advocating children. We can never stop looking out for them,” Bishop said.

To learn more about how to help on the second Tuesday of each month, CASA holds an information meeting to answer questions on how to become a CASA representative. The meetings are at 6 p.m. at the CASA office located at 2120 Gloria Drive in Orange. To reserve a seat, call 409-886-2272.