Child advocacy group needs money to continue work

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The Court Appointed Special Advocates say more than 16,000 cases of child abuse were reported in Jackson County in 2007.

"There are too many cases out there where there is no love, where the child doesn't know how to love," Robert Standfield said.

Standfield joined the CASA team six years ago. He's been opening his heart to help children from abusive and neglectful homes in Jackson County.

"There is too much to do. You have to have somebody that can go to the place where these kids live, and in their school, and get in their confidence," Standfield said.

New member Dustin Thomas agrees CASA is a needed group.  He points out how it gives a voice to kids who are pushed into an already overcrowded court system. CASA helps place children in safer environments.

"CASA looks at what is in the best interest of the child, and the judge has to decide what's in the best interest of child," Thomas said.

The cost of helping is not cheap. Volunteers say most of the funding comes from the United Way or fundraisers. Donations seem to be decreasing as the program grows.

"It takes about $950 for a child to go through this CASA system," Thomas said.

So far, CASA has worked on about 60 cases this year. In order for the group to continue its mission of helping kids in the courtroom, more financial help is needed.

"More money is always needed because as we continue to grow, the numbers continue to escalate," CASA Director Frances Allsup said. "We are moving by leaps and bounds, and we are trying to stay afloat right now."

CASA members hope to provide a better future for abused children in Jackson County.

The organization is working to raise money. The Stroke For Hope Golf Tournament will be held at the Mississippi National Golf Course in Gautier on Saturday, April 18th. For more information, call (228) 762-7370.

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