CASA of the Mid-Shore recently branched out to begin providing volunteer advocates to truant children as young as six years of age found by the Dorchester Circuit Court to need services. Dorchester Circuit Court Judge Brett Wilson, troubled by young children in his courtroom with multiple unexcused absences from school, conceived the groundbreaking concept of appointing CASA volunteers to some of these cases. A recent letter of support from Judge Wilson includes this message: “I cannot state it emphatically enough when I say that CASA’s service to children continues to significantly impact positive outcomes for children in Dorchester County. . . and the insightful assessments and recommendations provided by CASA are of great help to this Court in making important decisions in complex cases.”
With assistance from the Maryland Judiciary’s Department of Juvenile and Family Services, CASA of the Mid-Shore is providing volunteer Educational CASAs to some of the children coming before the Truancy Reduction Court in Dorchester County.
Not many people know that chronic truancy is a strong predictor of serious risk for children and families and often a symptom of deeper family or community issues. Research reflects that truant children are disproportionately: youth of color; from low-income families; youth with special education needs; youth and families with mental health needs; and/or youth who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Often these children are at increased risk of a host of problems including maltreatment, poor academic achievement, a low likelihood of graduating from high school, low self-esteem, homelessness, juvenile delinquency, mental health issues, hunger, and malnourishment.
Unfortunately, truancy continues to increase, as do waiting lists for services to truant children and their families in Dorchester County. The Court Appointed Special Advocacy model has long shown effectiveness in connecting with youth, where one-on-one supportive relationships between CASAs and children have proven to be particularly effective with at-risk youth. By providing in-depth information to the Court and advocating for children’s best interest, CASA volunteers have opportunities to guide truant youth, while also connecting them and their families to community resources to meet their needs.
JOIN OUR EFFORTS: Now enrolling residents for our upcoming virtual Spring Pre-service training classes. LEARN about becoming a Volunteer Advocate email [email protected] or visit casamidshore.org.