The child abuse rate for New Mexico was 17 in 2016. The child abuse rate is the number of substantiated child victims per 1,000 children. Based on numbers published by the United States Census Bureau, there are roughly half a million children in our state. So, when we consider the child abuse rate that means over 8,000 children in New Mexico have experienced some form of abuse.
What are we doing for these children? What services are provided to help protect these children and ensure a better life?
Mesilla Valley CASA is working hard on behalf of these abused children who have ended up in the foster care system. They make sure children in foster care receive the critical support they deserve by providing them with a volunteer advocate who champions their best interests and fights for their right to a happy, safe life.
Research shows that foster children who maintain connections with extended family members have increased opportunities of being placed with family when reunification with parents is no longer a viable option. Children who maintain connections with their family during foster care also have a heightened sense of personal identity and better self-esteem.
The Children’s Code of New Mexico states that the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) must demonstrate reasonable efforts in locating and engaging family members. CASA volunteers play a unique role in supporting this work and advocating throughout the processes of the child welfare system that family members be sought out and considered for placement.
Our goal is that Mesilla Valley CASA plays an integral role, from the beginning of a case, in supporting CYFD and the court in identifying family members that may be a good resource for the children," shared Brandie White, Mesilla Valley CASA Program Director. “It’s vital that the children have consistent contact with the people in their life that are important to them.”
According to the National CASA Association, children with a CASA volunteer are more likely to find a safe, permanent home and half as likely to reenter foster care.
Philanthropy doesn't only come in the form of monetary gifts, but gifts of time and talent. Mesilla Valley CASA is currently recruiting volunteers.
One of our goals is to have a volunteer advocate for every child in foster care because right now we only have enough volunteers for about half of our kids, White said."
We hope you'll consider giving the gift of your time and supporting children in need through the services provided by Mesilla Valley CASA.
For more information on becoming a volunteer advocate, call (575) 527-0035 or visit www.mesillavalleycasa.org.