Bar News - March 18, 2015
Opinion: Join Us in Seeking Justice For Abused and Neglected Kids
By: Bud Martin
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
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
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 is the president/treasurer and a director
of Martin, Lord & Osman and a former NH District Court and Family