Every day in Dallas, more than 2,000 abused and neglected children are living in foster care because it isn’t safe for them to go home, according to Dallas CASA, a Dallas-based organization (also known for the annual and always amazing Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark Center).

These children have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and are waiting for a judge to decide where they can live safely and permanently. These children need powerful voices to speak for their best interests, says CASA spokesperson Katy Seitzler. That’s where CASA comes in.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Dallas CASA is an organization of volunteers who are voices for abused children in court, Seizler says. Specially trained volunteer advocates get to know everyone involved in the children’s lives, gathering information and making recommendations to the courts about where each child can live safely and permanently. In an overworked and overburdened child welfare system, a CASA volunteer may be the one constant for an abused child who has lost everything, she says.

Unfortunately, because of a shortage of volunteers, less than half of the children in CPS care in Dallas have CASA volunteers to speak for them.

“We are in desperate need of more volunteers to take our training and become volunteer advocates for abused children,” Seitzler says. “We especially need bilingual Spanish-speaking volunteers because many of our cases involve Spanish-speaking families.”

If you’ve ever heard stories in the news and wondered, “How can I help these children?” You need to know about CASA. Check out the CASA Dallas website to learn more, or call 214.827.8961. Go to the Become a Volunteer Advocate page to see the dates/times for the information sessions.

Read more in our East Dallas Advocate: CASA volunteers make real differences in children’s lives — and their own.