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CASA challenge: Remember 'forgotten children'

POSTED: April 16, 2010 1:08 p.m.
ATLANTA — In 2009, the Georgia foster care system served 16,300 abused and neglected children.
On Friday, April 16, as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates will hold a “Forgotten Children” demonstration to raise awareness for these children and challenge the community to give them a voice as volunteer advocates.
Although the event is in Atlanta, members of the Atlantic Area CASA branch, which serves Liberty, Bryan, Long, McIntosh and Tattnall counties, will participate. Local director Irene McCall and volunteer Mary Hall will attend. McCall said it’s important to call attention to the ongoing problem of child abuse and neglect, especially during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
During the demonstration in Woodruff Park, 500 life-sized “child displays” will be set up to symbolize the average number of Georgia children who entered foster care each month in 2009.
Each of the 500 cutouts bear actual messages from foster children gathered during a national study commissioned by the National CASA Association — a network of more than 1,000 local community programs that recruit and train citizen volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in state care. Between 2008-2009, 2,037 CASA volunteers throughout Georgia advocated for 8,707 children.
“When I entered the foster care system as a teenager, I was timid and afraid. I felt like I had no control or say about what was going on around me,” said Brittany Jean, 23, of Atlanta, who was in foster care in Liberty County. She is now a member of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families Advisory Board. “My CASA volunteer really listened and gave me the courage to speak up for myself. I directly credit my CASA volunteer with ensuring that I found a safe home where I could thrive and become who I am today.”  
Atlanta will also play host to the national CASA conference on April 16-19. More than 1,400 CASA volunteers, staff and board members from around the country will gather to discuss emerging issues in child welfare and child advocacy. Judge Glenda Hatchett, a recognized authority on juvenile issues and star of the hit television show “Judge Hatchett,” will be the keynote speaker.
For more information, call 876-3816 or go to www.atlanticcasa.org.
 

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