CASA of McLennan County is calling for more volunteers to become court appointed special advocates for children in the foster care system.
Stephen and Lindsey Carl are the proud parents of five children. They have two that are biological and three siblings they adopted two years ago.
"We wanted to have a big family and we knew that there was a need for families to step up and take care of the orphans in our community," Stephen said.
While they were fostering the three siblings, they met their first CASA volunteer.
"We quickly found out who they were and what they did," Stephen said. "For us, in particular, our CASA volunteer was pretty meaningful to our case."
CASA volunteers serve as a judge's eyes and ears, visiting with all those involved in the child's life to determine what's the best place for them to call home.
After witnessing the volunteer's positive influence on their foster children, the Carls decided to get involved.
"I walked in and I told the director here, I just said 'I have to do this' because I saw the impact that she made and it was so great that I want to do the same thing for someone else," Lindsey said.
Now they're hoping other people join them in providing advocacy for approximately 650 children in McLennan County.
Mindi Masten is the director of volunteers for CASA of McLennan County. She said they have around 80 volunteers and need 240 more to serve all of the children in our area removed by Child Protective Services.
"Every child deserves to have someone in their corner, making sure everything is going to be the best possible outcome for that child," Masten said. "It's really a tough day when I get removal after removal and I'm out of volunteers."
Stephen and Lindsey are each working on individual cases. Stephen is helping one child and there are two children on Lindsey's caseload.
"You want success," Lindsey said."You want what's going to be the best for them."
"I'm a busy person, as a father of five and a student, so I don't have a whole lot of time to give, but we all have enough time for what's important to us," Stephen said. "I make time for these kids because it's important to me."
Stephen is attending law school at Baylor University. He hopes to better serve children in the foster care system upon graduation.
"My journey as a foster parent is what brought me to law school," Stephen said. "There's a power that lawyers possess to make a huge difference in the lives of children in our community and I want to be part of that."
To become a volunteer for CASA, you must be at least 21 years old, successfully pass a background check and be able to make a two-year minimum commitment to a case.
The next information session is April 24 at 6 p.m. at 1001 Washington Avenue.
To submit a volunteer application, click here.
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