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CASA volunteers bring sense of urgency to children's needs

SPRINGFIELD — Child Advocacy Services SEGA Inc. is a hand that fits into a helpful, loving glove.
The organization (CASA) partners with Effingham County Family Connection to boost the interests of abused and neglected children involved in court proceedings. CASA volunteers increase children's access to education and health services, promote safety and advocate for them in the courtroom.

"I wish there was no need for us but, unfortunately, there is," CASA Executive Director Suze Christian said. "I'd like to satisfy that need one hundred percent."
CASA needs a lot more help to come close to Christian's lofty objective. It is a nonprofit organization that needs volunteers as much as money.
"Sadly, we could never have enough volunteers," she said. "We are lucky to get to half of the kids who need a CASA."
Currently, opioid abuse is wreaking havoc on families in Effingham County and the rest of the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit, which also includes Bulloch, Jenkins and Screven counties.
Christian said, "We've really seen an increase in foster care and, because Effingham County doesn't really have a good rehab place for their parents, it makes it difficult because the kids end up spending more time in foster care than they need to."
CASA volunteers testify in court on behalf of children and check on them monthly. They also monitor court-ordered parental visits.
"Our advocates are all volunteers who undergo pretty rigourous training," Christian said. "We ask a lot of them but they do it because they see a need."

See the June 20 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.