Needed: advocates for foster children
It was heartwarming to read of Danielle Gletow's efforts to meet the needs of foster children in the Sept. 17 "People Making a Difference" feature. Foster children – most of whom have been removed by court order from abusive or neglectful parents – are innocent victims often treated shabbily by budget-conscious counties and states.
I was surprised that the article made no mention of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, or guardians ad litem. Thousands serve as court-appointed volunteer mentors for foster children, also advising the court on what is best for the child. Typically, they commit to at least one year with a child. Some volunteers spend several hours per week with the child. They also interview the child's family, teachers, doctors, social workers, and others who can provide insight into the youngster's needs.
The CASA program was the idea of a juvenile court judge who recognized that Child Protective Services social workers were overwhelmed by large caseloads and that judges needed more information about the child. There is a particular shortage of male volunteers to serve as CASAs. For someone wanting to "make a difference," more information can be found at casaforchildren.org.
Family planning helps end hunger
Thanks to the Sept. 24 cover story for tackling the crucial topic of world food insecurity ("Breadbasket blues"). One important, underrecognized tool to fight hunger is voluntary family planning. The United Nations projects that Earth will have at least 9 billion people by 2050 and up to 15 billion by the end of the century. Meanwhile, 222 million women in developing nations want to end or delay childbearing but have no access to modern contraception. In the United States, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned.
We need better planning and production to avoid food shocks. But we also need a global commitment to voluntary family planning programs. Only when women have this access will population growth slow, and everyone have the chance to be fed.
President, Population Connection