DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)–“I saw there was a need for positive role models in our community,” said Marty Watkins. Watkins decided to fill that void. Earlier this year, he became a CASA advocate and started supporting children who have entered the foster care system. He currently works with two children that are siblings. “There are children who are out here that were being neglected and abused. They needed to have someone who was able to speak up for them,” said Watkins.
The Executive Director of Macon County CASA says advocates play a crucial role. “We walk alongside the children, and we advocate for them in lots of different ways including educationally, personally, medically, and judicially in the court,” said Julia Livingston, Executive Director of Macon County CASA. The number of people who need their help continues to rise. Macon County has over 630 children in foster care. This is the second highest of any county in Illinois per capita. CASA advocates for half of those children.
Of the 221 volunteers in Macon County, 37 are men. “There is a lack of men when it comes to volunteering in this area. We need more men to step up because we have a lot of males who are CASA kids, and they are missing something that they don’t normally have in their household,” said Watkins. “Their role is so important for our foster boys that are in care because many of these boys have not had the opportunity to have a positive male role model. Marty for instance is just that,” said Livingston.
Watkins hopes more people will consider giving back to children who have already had so much taken away. “I urge the males to please get involved. These kids need you,” said Watkins, “There’s no pressure, but I would just urge you to become a CASA advocate. The reward is tremendous, and you will never regret it.”
For more information about becoming a CASA advocate, go to their website.