ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona’s foster care system in need of child advocates

Jun 11, 2019, 4:24 AM
Rebecca Pusch of Mesa was a court-appointed special advocate for seven years. She's now a foster pa...
Rebecca Pusch of Mesa was a court-appointed special advocate for seven years. She's now a foster parent. (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)
(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Each child in Arizona’s foster care system is supposed to get an advocate who looks out for their best interest, but only a small fraction of them actually do.

The latest numbers by the Arizona Department of Child Safety show there are more than 14,200 children in foster care statewide. About 1 in 6 of these children have a court-appointed special advocate, according to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“They are appointed by a judge to report on the best interest of a child in foster care,” said Rebecca Pusch, a Mesa resident who was a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, for seven years and now mentors others. “They get to know the child and they also get to review all of the information in the case.”

Pusch, who is now a foster parent, said CASA volunteers play a critical role in the lives of children in foster care.

They spend time with the children, often taking them out to fun activities, such as sporting events, movie theaters and out to eat.

The CASA volunteers also get to know the important figures in the children’s lives, including their parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers and medical professionals.

They then use the information to make informed recommendations regarding the child’s needs.

“I’ve always felt that this population of children needs all the support that they can get,” Pusch said.

No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer.

To qualify, applicants must be at least 21 years old, go through a background check, complete 30 hours of training and be willing to commit to a case until it’s closed.

Once approved, they are expected to spend about 20 hours a month on a case. They sometimes will get assigned to a single child or a group of siblings.

The Arizona Supreme Court, which oversee the CASA program, told KTAR News 92.3 FM there’s a need for a diverse group of caring adults who are willing to volunteer their time to help children in foster care.

The latest data available by the state Supreme Court shows statewide there were 1,269 CASA volunteers in May 2019. In Maricopa County, there were 664 CASA volunteers.

Pusch said “everyday people” can become CASA volunteers as long as they’re committed.

“It does require a good commitment — it’s not something you can do one hour a month,” she added. “But it’s something where you can really make a difference.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/City Government of Chandler, Arizona)...
KTAR.com

Chandler City Council approves policy to prohibit acts of discrimination

The Chandler City Council voted 6-1 to adopt an ordinance that prohibits discrimination during Monday’s meeting.
1 day ago
(Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Execution warrant requested for Arizona death row inmate

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has requested the state Supreme Court issue a warrant of execution for death row inmate Aaron Gunches.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Angel Zamora)...
KTAR.com

2 Phoenix police officers charged with assault in October incident with shooting suspect

Charges against two Phoenix police officers accused of assaulting a shooting suspect during an October arrest have been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
1 day ago
(Screenshot via Glendale Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Glendale police said officer who activated Taser on shoplifting suspect 14 times followed policy

Glendale police said an officer who activated a Taser 14 times on a shoplifting suspect Tuesday acted within department policy.
1 day ago
(Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Photo/Andrew Pielage)...
KTAR.com

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale to host 1st holiday experience

The Scottsdale winter home and studio of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright will host two weekends of holiday-themed activities open to the public for the first time.
1 day ago
Teofilo Acuna Gutierrez (Photo courtesy of DPS)...
KTAR.com

Silver Alert canceled for 78-year-old man last seen in Phoenix

A Silver Alert was canceled Wednesday evening in Phoenix for a 78-year-old man who hasn't been spotted since Friday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Arizona’s foster care system in need of child advocates