Voices For Neglected Children - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/22/2007

Voices For Neglected Children

Today, First Lady Mary Perdue attended a child deprivation case at the Chatham County Juvenile Court to highlight the importance of CASA volunteers in Georgia. Mrs. Perdue's event in Savannah today is a part of her ongoing effort through the Kids First Initiative, a program to highlight volunteer opportunities with abused and neglected children.

"It is my hope that by traveling the state to talk about the Kids First Initiative, we are reaching a new generation of Georgians who are ready and eager to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable children," said Perdue. "Court Appointed Special Advocates are an invaluable group of volunteers who help make sure that each child has a safe, permanent home."

Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates is a non-profit organization that establishes and supports programs across the state to recruit, screen, train and supervise community volunteers. CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children involved in juvenile court deprivation proceedings.

There are currently 47 CASA programs serving children in 116 counties across the state. These 116 counties represent 44 of the 49 judicial circuits in Georgia. In 2006, 1,650 CASAs advocated for more than 8,200 children in Georgia's child welfare system.

Kids First is an initiative of the Our Children Campaign. The First Lady travels across Georgia hosting monthly activities highlighting an area of volunteerism with abused and neglected children. Past Kids First events have included the program's launch that showcased the First Steps program at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, a baby shower to benefit Families First, Foster Parent Appreciation Night at the Governor's Mansion and a book drive in North Georgia to benefit a local child advocacy center.

"With each community we visit, we increase awareness about the need for strong child advocates in our state," she said. "It is my hope that every Georgian will make volunteerism a lasting part of their daily life."

To find out more information or to learn how you can support the foster children in your community, visit http://www.gov.state.ga.us/ and follow the link to the First Lady's Our Children Campaign or call 866.786.6661.

Reported by: Jamie Ertle-Durden, jertle@wtoc.com

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