As a new Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, I would like to speak briefly to some of the issues faced by foster care children.
There are more than 2,500 children living in foster care in the state of New Mexico. We, as CASA volunteers, are given the privilege of being a voice for these children while they are in the custody of the courts. Most of these youth have suffered physically and emotionally from abuse, neglect, or abandonment by family members. Many communities have a real deficit of caring, well-trained foster families, as well as overworked and under-compensated CYFD workers.
Often these children have been living in difficult home situations where chaos and dysfunction are the norm. Substance abuse is often the priority of the caretakers, leaving the children in very precarious circumstances.
It is no wonder that many of these children who have been removed from these situations and placed in foster homes have deep-seated emotional issues and extremely difficult behavior and school problems. There are not adequate mental health resources available in any of our New Mexico communities.
Medication is only one of many arms of therapy used to help these children.
However, prescribing drugs is sometimes the quickest way to gain control of a child’s behavior, especially when other resources are in such short supply.
Obviously these kids require immense love and patience and consistency in their lives to overcome many of their behavioral challenges, as well as ongoing therapy.
As a retired pediatrician, a newly minted CASA volunteer, and a lifelong child advocate, I would beseech you to look into your hearts and see how you can help these children. Become loving foster parents, or support our local CASA program. We are always in need of volunteers, and financial support is always welcome.
Mary S. Schipper M.D.