A child’s home environment plays a significant role in how they develop as people who are able to adapt to change and lead healthy lives. When the home environment is unstable there are tremendous adverse effects. A child’s brain grows in one of the biggest learning periods of their lives during ages of birth to three years old. If the child’s home environment is stable, supportive, and loving, they have a decreased risk of developing anxiety and depression, behavioral problems, and later dropping out of school.
Research has shown that a chaotic and unpredictable environment, however, alters the brain’s development in infants and toddlers as indicated by MRI studies. Some examples of an unstable environment are more obvious than others and may include domestic violence and parental substance abuse. However; studies have shown that poverty, low socioeconomic status, maternal depression, and maternal education can also create a home environment that places a child at risk for chronic diseases later in life, poor language and cognitive development by age 3, and deficits in school readiness. TUCI Data Book VII 2012: A child’s early home environment has long-term effects on development. www.urbanchildinstitute.org.
Sometimes a child’s home environment is so unsafe that they have to be removed from their family, become wards of the court and placed into the foster care system. Although placed in a safer environment, the child’s experience of being removed from everything familiar can create them additional trauma. Support and advocacy is needed for these children to assist them in growing and thriving as they are impacted by the child welfare system. The involvement of a caring adult can change the trajectory of their young lives and help them to grow into healthy individuals.
CASA of Yavapai County is always looking for more caring adults to advocate for children while they are in the foster care system. CASA volunteers must be at least 21 years old, have 15-20 hours per month to devote to their work as a CASA and be willing to remain on the case until permanency is reached (approximately 18-24 months). Volunteers must also be able to participate in a polygraph exam, pass a background check, and have a willingness to learn about the foster care system. To learn more, please call 928-771-3165 or visit www.CASAofYavapaiCounty.org.