Aug 23, 2013 1:44 PM by Janine Reyes
CORPUS CHRISTI -- Hundreds of children in the Coastal Bend are placed in foster care each year. It can be a scary place for a child who's already suffered abuse and neglect.
But, there is an organization that steps in and speaks up for the child, and tonight, they're speaking out because they need your support.
Last October, police and CPS responded to an apartment where they found a 2 and 3-year-old left home alone.
When their mother, Maria Carrejo, came home, police took her away in handcuffs. The girls and their older sister went to foster care.
It's these type cases that happen daily here in the Coastal Bend and they eventually end up in court.
In court, several attorneys, CPS, even other family members can make for a confusing story and the judge has to try to determine what is really going on.
It's cases like these where a CASA, a court appointed special advocate, can make a big difference.
In the case involving Carrejo's three girls, a CASA stepped in.
Retired school teacher Andy Rodriguez is going through training now to get involved and become a CASA.
"I've learned a lot, I've got to visit the court to see court cases, I've been on a police ride," Rodriguez told us.
Since CASAs are a volunteer force, its people like him that are the backbone of the program, Rodriguez will visit with his CASA kid at foster care, in school, meet with the parents and report it all back to the court.
But with 907 kids in foster care in the Coastal Bend, there simply aren't enough advocates for every child stuck in the system, so judges are forced to decide which cases to assign them to, cases like Carrejo's, who happened to have 5 prior reports with CPS.
CASA of the Coastal Bend is looking to recruit an additional 100 to 150 volunteers to help meet the need in our region.
You'll have to undergo 30 hours of training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Then, you'll spend about 15-20 hours a month once you are assigned a case.
For more information on getting involved click here, or call (361) 884-2272.