STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - Blue Ridge CASA for Children is gearing up for an increase in cases, which means more volunteers are needed to help.
Eighty-eight children have been served by the organization since July 1, but the need is expected to be greater due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Each court-appointed special advocate is a voice for the best interests of a child in the foster care system because they were abused or neglected.
“We have an educated opinion of what’s happening behind closed doors right now,” Blue Ridge CASA for Children CEO Juan Pablo Berrizbeitia said.
Experts believe there are actually more children being abused or neglected: “What’s happening in the pandemic is that the eyes, the best eyes that we had on the kids, which are the schools, are not there, right? And at the same time you have increased pressure on houses that you know they were fired, furloughed, all these things with COVID,” Berrizbeitia said.
Berrizbeitia says it’s important to preserve what they do as the only agency connecting community members to these children, to be with them, and to advocate for them throughout the whole process.
“Children going through the foster care system and going through the court system are put behind the curtain because of confidentiality,” Berrizbeitia explained. “Confidentiality is there to protect them. But it also makes them somewhat invisible to the community.”
Blue Ridge CASA for Children has hired someone to focus on how to recruit and retain volunteers.
Information about volunteering to become a court-appointed special advocate, as well as supporting Blue Ridge CASA for Children is available online.