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Wed, Feb. 26

CASA for Teens: 'Karen'

A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer is needed for 16-year-old "Karen." Child Protective Services (CPS) removed this teen from her father's home because he was unable to meet her special needs, which include autism, attention deficit disorder and the ability to function only at the level of an 8-year old. The father is also mentally delayed and is simply not capable of parenting Karen. The teen's mother abandoned her and has a history of substance abuse.

Among the CASA volunteer's responsibilities: monitoring the ongoing progress of Karen in her foster home; working with her schoolteachers, to help promote her education; working with her therapist, to keep abreast of her mental health and developmental issues; assisting CPS in working with the mother, to determine whether she might be willing to undergo treatment services that would permit Karen to be transferred to her care; working with CPS to identify other relatives who might support the father in parenting this teen or be willing to be guardians for her; attending monthly meetings with Karen and other team members involved in the case; and making recommendations to the judge as to the best long-term placement for this youth. CASA volunteers need to provide information to the court at report and review hearings throughout the life of a case.

At the present time, there is a great need for CASA volunteers willing to work with teenagers. If teens, such as Karen, cannot be returned to their parents or find a suitable adoptive home, the youths will remain as wards of the court until they are 18, at which point, they "age out" of care. CASA volunteers can have a powerful impact in helping such teens become better prepared to eventually be able to live on their own, although in Karen's case, her developmental and mental issues might prevent this from occurring.

If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer for this case or a similar one, and making a difference in the life of a child, please contact the CASA office at 928-771-3165.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This child's named has been changed to protect the identities of those involved and this child is not available for adoption at this time.

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