TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - As the number of babies born addicted continues to rise, there's a bigger need for lawyers to support those babies and other kids whose parents are addicted to opioids. Now, there's a recruitment effort underway to fill that void.
Michelle Carson has been a volunteer for Lucas County CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, for a few months. She helps kids who are being abused or neglected by their parents; she helps find safe and permanent homes for the children.
Michelle says it is a tough job at times, but her desire to help kids is what pushed her to get involved.
"It's very rewarding, first of all," Carson said. "It's a great organization to be a part of. And to know that you're making a difference in a child's life, that's where it's at for me personally."
Volunteers are needed, and so are lawyers.
Any time a child is abused, they are assigned to a lawyer to make sure they receive proper care.
Babies born addicted are considered abused. CASA says about half of the kids it advocates for are victims of the opioid crisis, because their parents are addicted.
"We had a 15 percent increase from 2015 to 2016, so we're still seeing those numbers go up," CASA Recruitment and Training Coordinator Colleen Schoonmaker said. "The kids are really silent victims in this epidemic, and so we're looking to help them as much as we can."
The non-profit is looking for 20 lawyers to meet the demand.
The Toledo Bar Association and Foundation has provided CASA with a gr ant for an upcoming workshop to train lawyers to work for the kids.
"Guardian ad litem work is very specific to kids who are abused and neglected," said Schoonmaker. "So we provide specialized training for that."
Lawyers who want to sign up for the workshops on May 22 and May 24 should call Schoonmaker at 419-213-6781.
Anyone who wants to volunteer as an advocate is asked to attend an informational meeting at the Maumee Public Library on April 26 at 5:30 p.m.
Learn more by visiting the CASA website and clicking on "volunteer."