The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 31, 2013

CASA has been a success

---- — I would like to commend Loren Amacher for pointing out the need for better legislation around child neglect. I agree better laws are foundational to making strides toward better lives for the children who are suffering. I must take exception, however, to the position that Susquehanna Valley CASA Voices for Children's efforts to expand will meet with failure.

I agree that there are huge challenges facing us as we expand into Snyder and Union counties; but these communities are filled with adults who care deeply about the welfare of children. We must work together to conquer a lack of public awareness, find reliable and sufficient funding sources, and engage and retain dedicated volunteers.

And yes, the system is overtaxed. CASA's mission is to augment those overtaxed resources, by providing an individual and detailed view for the court into the life of each child we serve. Susquehanna Valley CASA Voices for Children uses a proven model of trained volunteers, with close oversight from volunteer coordinators, to ensure that the opinions that are presented to the judges are fact-based and thoroughly researched. Because of our adherence to this model, we are limited in the number of children we can serve. We can't help them all, at least not yet, and so if that is your definition of failure, then you are absolutely right.

However, in my view, if we can help one child to, as you mention, not be returned into a situation where they will face danger; if we can help one child to find a "forever home" with love and support, then I would say CASA has been a success.

I challenge everyone who reads this to refuse to take the path of least resistance, naysaying those who are taking action but instead, please use your voice and your talents to move the pendulum in the direction of success. Volunteer, donate and help us raise awareness.

I appreciate hearing passionate support of the health and safety of kids at risk. That, for certain, we absolutely agree on.

Debra Wagner, vice president, Susquehanna Valley CASA Voices for Children Board