Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Speak up! Some may remember how pumped up you were when you first visited Bethesda Outreach or a place like it where you both saw and understood the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children. You were determined like never before to come to the aid of these children in any way possible.
We are seeing a growing number of people in churches who are both speaking up and learning to speak up for neglected and/or abused children. Here is one example of how to become more involved as an advocate for these children.
James Solarek serves as the Executive Pastor at Community Baptist Church in Edwardsburg, MI. He and his wife, Aisling, currently are both foster and adoptive parents. James has recently become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Board member in his county. He answers a few questions to help us understand this form of speaking up for children.
What does a CASA or CASA board member do?
Simply put, a CASA board member provides an overseeing voice to CASA staff and volunteers, who in turn provide a voice for abused and/or neglected children. Most counties have a CASA or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program. The CASA/GAL volunteer has the authorization from the court to visit the children in care along with all involved adults and write a report for the court from the perspective of what is best for the children.
Why did you get involved at this level?
My wife and I currently serve as foster/adoptive parents; but, I wanted to have a greater influence than just my immediate family in caring for foster children. As a Pastor, this has led us to establish several initiatives in our church to support those in foster care. In our county, there is a great need for more foster families. I am hoping that my role as a CASA board member will help those children already in care and also encourage more families to commit to becoming foster parents.
What were the training requirements?
I am still in the early stages of the training. I have an initial orientation and then there will be more training as the need arises. There seems to be a good amount of “on-the-job” training. To become a certified CASA there was an initial application and interview process, various background checks and references, and 4 Saturdays of classroom training to be appointed.
What are the challenges and joys of being involved this way?
Being a CASA board member is a big time commitment. It is more than just showing up at monthly meetings. There is also the potential for frustration as your hear about the difficult situations of the children and the shortage of foster families in our county.
The church is made to speak up! Get online now, find your local child services department website and contact them to see how you can speak up for the neglected and/or abused children in your community. When you do, please let us know so we can be a part of your prayer and encouragement team.