CASA volunteers needed for foster children

LAS VEGAS - Children in foster care usually have a whole team of specialists who see to their needs not the least of which is a  CASA volunteer, if they can get one.

Court appointed special advocates are in short supply right now.

The volunteers play an important role in the lives of foster children. A CASA volunteer is committed to a child for no less than two years and often for life.

"Probably my longest classic case is my young man who just turned 19 and moved out of state and I was his CASA from the time he was nine," said Lorrie Curriden.

She has been a CASA for 16 years.

"We come from all different backgrounds. Some of us have kids at home, some of us work full-time, some of us are retired," Curriden said. "I'm convinced the only thing that you need to be a great CASA is to have a great heart."

"I really count on them for the insight on the child, to really get into that child's heart and soul," said Judge Frank Sullivan.

As a family court judge, Frank Sullivan depends on the CASA volunteer to fill in the whole picture of the child. Not only what the child wants, but what they need.

Verise Campbell has been a CASA for more than 10 years.

"I believe that we are an asset to the court because we provide an insight that the court otherwise would not have. For instance, what does the child like? Do they like to play football, do they like soccer, is math their best subject? What vegetables do they hate. We know these things because we spend quite a bit of one-on-one time with the children," she said.

Cynthia Guiliana is also a family court judge who depends on CASA.

"They're advocates for these children, they treat them as well as they'd want their own children to be treated. They look out for everything. Being a CASA is it's own reward, but it's not for everybody," Guiliana said.

Kathy Espin has been a CASA for 20 years and says beyond the tough parts, it's rewarding work.

"I don't know of anything else you can do that would have a better long-term impact on making the world a better place to live," she said.

"We have a saying on that, if you appoint a child a CASA, you give them a voice, if you give that child a voice, you give that child hope, if you give that child hope, you give that child a future. We really count on CASAS in our community to give every child in our system a future."

More than 1,000 foster kids need a CASA. But only about 300 have them. If you'd like to become one,
call the CASA office at (702) 455-4306.