Weather Forecast


Wanted: People who care about children

Jerry Breen, a retired social worker, and Heidi Roettger, a mother of five, are spearheading an effort to form a local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA. The organization uses volunteers to work with and speak for abused and neglected children. -- Photo by Judy Wiff

A retired social worker and a stay-at-home mom are hoping to bring to western Wisconsin a program that uses everyday citizens to advocate for abused and neglected children.

Jerry Breen, River Falls, and Heidi Roettger, Beldenville, have been meeting with civic organizations to recruit steering committee members to begin the process of forming a local branch of CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates.

CASA, started in 1977 by Seattle Judge David Soukup, now has a network of over 946 programs recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states, according to its website.

The website says Soukup, a juvenile court judge, was concerned that he was making important decisions about children's lives with insufficient information. He "conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom."

The Wisconsin CASA Association now has seven programs, serving 10 counties, all in the southern half of the state.

"I have no background in child protective services," admitted Roettger whose degree is in business. With five children, ages 4-14, she has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years.

For more please read the Oct. 3 print version of the Herald.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

(715) 426-1049