Family & Youth E-Newsletter, Lake Charles, LA       April 2010


April is Child Abuse Awareness Month


April is Child Abuse Awareness month, and what better way to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect than to tell the story through a local agency that provides advocacy services on behalf of these special children. CASA (a program of Family & Youth) is the acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates, and it is also, appropriately, the Spanish word for home, symbolizing the safe, loving, permanent home that all abused and neglected children long for. Children with CASA’s are less likely to spend time in long term foster care, are less likely to reenter the child welfare system, and have a better chance of having a safe, loving, permanent home. Simply put, abused and neglected children with CASA’s have a better chance at having a childhood.  


CASA began in 1986 in Seattle, Washington, and has since spread nationwide with over 1,000 programs providing volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children. Locally, CASA began as a project of the Junior League of Lake Charles under the leadership of then Assistant District Attorney and now Family & Juvenile Court Judge Lilynn Cutrer. It was on September 3, 1996, that Judge Billy Ezell swore in Barbara Downer, Dawn Redd, Jill Kelly, Susan Couch, Jennifer Gill, Della Rose, Monet Brashear, Kathy Chafin, and Nathalie Miller as the first in our community to Stand up for a Child as trained CASA volunteers. In 1999, CASA became a program of Family & Youth, and since that time has grown to provide services not only in Calcasieu Parish, but in Allen and Jefferson Davis Parishes as well. In 2009, 76 volunteers spent 1,476 hours training to be a CASA, and devoted another 3,271 volunteer hours and drove over 48,951 miles in serving 233 abused and neglected children. That’s dedication and commitment!


While these numbers are impressive, there is more to be done. The most recent statistics show that currently there are over 440 children in foster care in Southwest Louisiana, a number that has grown substantially over the past several years. Providing a CASA for every child that needs one is a moving target, but for the sake of those children it’s a goal that our community has to meet.   


CASA volunteers serve 3 roles. First, they are the eyes and ears of the court, gathering information about their child or children and their family that otherwise might not be available to be considered when decisions are made about what is in the best interest of that child. Secondly, CASA’s are the voice of the child, reporting the information they’ve


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Family & Youth, 220 Louie Street, Lake Charles, LA 70611, 337-436-9533,

Copyright Family & Youth Counseling Agency, Inc. 2010