Los Angeles, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–February 8, 2006–In Los Angeles there are more than 30,000 children in foster care; over 43% are Latino. These children are tangled in a complex web called the legal system. But for three consecutive Saturdays, eight local foster children had the opportunity to express themselves through art and find a positive outlet.
The workshops were presented by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association as a way to reach children and heighten awareness for the need of bilingual Hispanic volunteers to help foster children through the legal proceedings and to find a safe, permanent, loving home. Research shows that a child assigned to a CASA volunteer spends less time in court and less time within the foster care system as a whole.
The “Youth Atelier,” a series of art workshops, was taught by well-known local artists at Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG), based in East Los Angeles. SHG is a leading visual arts center serving the Los Angeles community for the past 30 years.
According to James Clune, chief communications officer for the National CASA Association, “Remarkable transformations of hope and dreams happen during these workshops. Children are allowed to express themselves like never before. We want the Hispanic community to embrace and help the foster children.”
Eight former and current foster care youth between the ages of 11-18 were invited to participate in SHG’s art workshops. The finished art work will be featured and auctioned off at the CASA of Los Angeles’ Tribute Dinner to be held May 13, 2006 during Foster Care Awareness Month. Monies raised from the auction will benefit the young artists.
It was important for Cindy Nasser Garcia, herself a former foster child and now a CASA volunteer, to work with Pablo (real name not used to protect child) to enter the CASA-sponsored youth art workshop called My Voice, My Life, My Future.
“I do anything I can to support positive outcomes in his life. Pablo expressed a strong interest in art so; I entered his artwork into the National CASA Association’s 2006 art project.”
With more than 30,000 foster children in the Los Angeles County dependency court system; over 43% being Hispanic, there are only a handful of bilingual Hispanic volunteers like Cindy to help place these children into permanent homes. In the entire state of California there are only 351 bilingual volunteers.
A CASA volunteer is a trained adult who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of an abused or neglected child in court. While a social worker may all at once have 60-90 cases, a CASA volunteer only has 1 or 2, hence the success of the program.
A CASA volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child’s future while offering to the child trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. The volunteer explains to the child procedures and roles of the court from the judges, lawyers to the role social workers play.
For more information on how to become a CASA volunteer, please contact CASA of Los Angeles at (323)526-6666, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to http://www.casala.org.
The National CASA Association is a non-profit organization that provides training, technical assistance, research, media and public awareness services to over 950 programs nationwide. CASA works with state and local volunteer programs to promote and support quality volunteer advocacy to help assure each child a safe, permanent, loving home. Founded in 1977 by a Seattle judge, CASA uses trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of foster children in court. Learn more about CASA by visiting http://www.nationalcasa.org. Make a difference in a child’s life today.
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