CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia is in critical need of volunteers to help with the state’s foster kids. There is a particular need for those who have been neglected and abused.

It’s estimated that West Virginia has more than seven thousand children in foster care.
In many cases, a foster child will get the help of a Court Appointed Special Advocate, known as a “CASA.”

A judge appoints a CASA to be an independent voice for the child, to talk with and observe the child and parents, and then report back to the court about their findings. The problem is that 26 West Virginia counties have no CASA program, and the western region which includes ten counties in the Kanawha Valley region, has more than 900 vacancies. They need volunteers.

“Our national tag line is, ‘Change a Child’s Story.’ And that’s what one volunteer can do for one child. It just takes one caring individual to change the story for a child forever. So that’s what I get out of it. Seeing community volunteers making a difference in the life of a child,” said Kimberly Wilds, of the Western Regional CASA.

Volunteers must be 21 and pass a background check and an interview. Free training is provided, and the workload averages about ten hours a month. To donate or volunteer, click here.

One of the main goals of CASA is to reunite children with their parents, grandparents or other relatives. We were told on Monday that reunification happens, in about half the cases.