It hurt me to see no mention of Minnesota’s hundreds of volunteer CASA guardians ad litem in Susan Miles’ Child Protection article in Friday’s Star Tribune.
I’m all for paying people for hard work and especially those working with troubled children and families.
Volunteer guardians come from the heart of the community, they do their work solely of concern for abused children & take fewer cases than paid guardians. Their training and requirements are the same as paid guardians.
They take fewer cases which means they can be more involved with the child and family. Paid guardians need to handle 25 sometime 30 cases – most volunteer CASA guardians only take a few.
State Ward children have commented many times to me that I was different because I was the only person from the County not being paid to be with them. This meant something to them.
Several of my caseload children were with me for over ten years. I was the only adult that remained in their life during those ten years as other service providers and educators came and went.
The guardian ad litem’s role is critical in giving a child a voice in what is a cold and lonesome experience for a child removed from the only home she has ever known with no assurance of returning or understanding what lies ahead. Anything we can do to treat this child a little more humanely should be done.
There are many things that need attention in our child protection system, but it is a no brainer to see to it that the child has a voice through a qualified and concerned guardian ad litem.
Today there are over 600 MN children in child protection without a guardian ad litem because the program lacks the resources to meet the demand.