Jackson Co. CASA gets room to grow

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - An organization that gives foster children a voice says it wouldn't be possible without the overwhelming support of volunteers. Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, held an open house at its new office in Pascagoula. CASA officials said having their own space will allow them to do more for foster children.

Children who've been abused, neglected, or whose parents are out of the picture touch the hearts of Silvia Bishop and Elizabeth Husband. Bishop and Husband tell different stories of what led them to become Jackson County CASA volunteers

"My son and his wife got involved in drugs and I got the guardianship of the kids," said Bishop."Going to the courts I saw a lot of kids that didn't have any support for them. So they were just there waiting for someone to come and get them out of the system."

Husband said, "I was a school counselor for 22 years. I saw kids when they went into foster care and how difficult it was for them to be separated from their families. I knew that the social workers had heavy case loads. So one of the things I wanted to do when I retired was to become a CASA worker."

The number of Jackson County CASA volunteers has gone from four in 2006 to nearly 90 now. Officials said having their own office space makes it easier to continue to grow.

"It gives us a chance to expand and have some room to grow," said Director Frances Allsup. "Entertain some children, visitations, training. It just opens up a whole new world for us. It's opened it up for the volunteers to have a place to come and study their files and have a computer and access to phone."

Jackson County has the second highest number of foster children in Mississippi.

Allsup said, "They're our future and if someone doesn't try to catch them before it's too late. And that's what these volunteers do. They give that belief. They give that support and it means everything to these children."

CASA said these children need to know someone cares about them.

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