Reported By: Evan Johnson
Last year more than 500 children were abused or neglected in Beauregard and Vernon parishes. More than 150 children are in foster care in the two parishes combined.
The program is called CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and it focuses primarily on the best interests of the children.
The advocates are trained citizens who are appointed by a judge to represent the child in court. They come from all walks of life with a variety of educational and ethnic backgrounds to offer the kids trust and hope during one of the hardest times of their lives.
Community Engagement Coordinator Wendi Seidl says, "These kids have been through abuse and neglect like you couldn't imagine. Their little lives have been completely turned upside down. They don't have the luxury like an adult that can get in their car and drive away or go to the mall and forget their problems for the day, they're stuck in this environment and it's up to us to help them and be a voice for them."
Research shows that children who have been assigned CASA advocates tend to spend less time in court and in the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation.