Child welfare systems are in a state of crisis, partly due to a devastating opioid epidemic combined with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Here in Nashville, we’ve also had issues due to the 2020 Super Tuesday tornadoes, civil unrest, the Christmas Day bombing, and flooding that have compounded the needs of families in our community. Cases are more complex; families are struggling to survive. The most vulnerable in our community are suffering the most.
Without developing resiliency, trauma from abuse and neglect during childhood can cause an adult to be more vulnerable to negative outcomes like homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues, and even physical health issues. Physical abuse and neglect are two of a number of highly stressful, potentially traumatic experiences known as “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs).
Casa volunteers work to build resiliency in children and their families to help them combat the long-term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences and stop the cycle of abuse. This saves tax dollars that would otherwise be used for rehabilitation, probation, homelessness, and other social issues that people experience later in life due to early traumatic events.
CASA Nashville has about 200 Volunteer Advocates who donate around 2,400 hours of their time each year to helping children in the foster care system. Training and supporting one CASA volunteer costs around $1,200 per year; much less than it costs to have a child in foster care for even one month!
Studies have shown that building resiliency requires connection to a caring, healthy adult. Just one caring adult can make all the difference! CASA volunteers commit to being that person in the life of a child, sticking with them no matter what. This reduces the burden on the social services system, the child welfare system, and the juvenile and adult criminal systems.
Richard Kennedy, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, speaks about the importance of the work CASA does and how CASA volunteers save the child welfare system money each year.