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Bar News - March 18, 2015


Opinion: Join Us in Seeking Justice For Abused and Neglected Kids

By:

CASA Launches ‘100 Men for 100 Children’ Campaign

As I write, there are more than 750 children in our courts as victims of abuse and/or neglect. The NH Division of Child and Family Services manages these cases, working toward a goal of a permanent plan for each child within one year. The task is daunting and resources are limited.

Each child in the system is required to have an advocate who speaks for the best interests of the child. The state system cannot do it alone.

Enter Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire. CASA recruits, trains and supervises volunteer advocates who are then appointed to cases to be the voice for the children at the center of abuse or neglect cases.

As a Family Court judge, I witnessed CASA volunteers making a difference in a child’s life. I witnessed a shift in how abuse and neglect cases were handled in New Hampshire. Through CASA’s advocacy, there was a movement that changed how the state handled permanency and a standard was set that a child’s future should be determined within a year of the case being opened. It was one of the most important things I saw happen in the courts during my 35 years on the bench.

CASA of New Hampshire has seen significant growth since it was established in 1989. Last year, more than 400 advocates spoke on behalf of 1,067 kids in NH’s family courts. This represented about 87 percent of the cases that came before the state. CASA’s goal is to have an advocate for every child, and this year, it is launching an effort to recruit 100 Men for 100 Children.

The children at the center of these cases come from upsetting and disturbing backgrounds. Some have been beaten by their mother or father. Others have been left to fend for themselves for hours or even days because their parents, for any number of reasons, didn’t know how to properly care for them. Parents of these children may be mentally ill or addicted to drugs. Some have come from a background of abuse that carried through to their own adult lives.

Often these children do not have a positive male role model in their lives. And while CASA serves an almost even number of boys and girls, only 24 percent of its volunteer staff is made up of men.

Knowing firsthand how important an advocate can be, shortly after I retired from the Family Court, I applied to be a CASA. After 40 hours of intense training, I was promptly assigned as an advocate for two boys. Over the past six years, I have helped 12 kids to return home, when appropriate, or to be adopted.

Pure and simple, as a CASA I’ve helped obtain justice for a dozen kids. The payback has been enormous. Join me in putting your advocacy skills and interest in justice to work for a kid. For more information, please visit www.casanh.org.


Willard “Bud” Martin

Willard “Bud” Martin is the president/treasurer and a director of Martin, Lord & Osman and a former NH District Court and Family Division judge.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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