EARLY YEARS: You can help Roanoke Valley foster children without being a foster parent
Children's Trust of the Roanoke Valley works to prevent child abuse and neglect.
It also offers a program to train volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates, also known as CASA.
Susan Tamez is a former pediatric nurse, who wanted to help children in a NEW way.
She'd considered fostering, but soon realized it wasn't a good fit for her family.
"We backed off from that, but still I had the drive for what can I do to impact a child that was vulnerable and was at risk, and when I heard about the program, I felt that this was probably what I wanted to do," says Tamez.
Susan's been working as a CASA volunteer for about a year now.
She says they're assigned to a child until he or she is out of the foster care system and the court case is resolved.
More volunteers like her are badly needed.
Katie Van Patten is with Children's Trust of Roanoke Valley.
She says, "Because these are children of abuse or neglect, we have more children than we have advocates. So, we're always in need of advocates and we certainly don't want any child to not have the services because we don't have advocates. We hope people will come and apply."
Susan Tamez is certainly happy she applied.
"Certainly it's been very rewarding and such a privilege to be a voice in a child that can't be a voice for themselves," she says.
If you'd like to apply to be a CASA volunteer, you'll find a link to the right of this story.