20th Anniversary For Group That Helps Foster Children - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

20th Anniversary For Group That Helps Foster Children

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MISSOULA -

A non-profit that helps abused and neglected children in Missoula and Mineral Counties is celebrating 20 years this month. CASA of Missoula trains volunteers to support children in the court system until they have a permanent and safe home.

Mike Bryan is a full time real estate agent and father, but when he's not playing dad, or selling homes, he's helping young children who are in serious need.

"I'll do everything from making sure the child is getting medical attention, going to the dentist, staying up in school, to reporting to court my opinion in what is in the best interest of the child," Bryan said.

Bryan started volunteering for CASA of Missoula four years ago, after learning more than 100 kids in the court system who have been taken away from their families, don't have an advocate.

"What I learned was that a child whose been taken away from their parents will take 50% of their time outside of a permanent home then this with CASA's."

During his time at CASA he's worked on two cases, representing young children between ages two and 4-years-old.

"There are a lot of children in real trouble. You're not taken away from your parents for eating too many cookies, there's very serious issues going on," Bryan said.

CASA represents their cases until the children find a permanent home, because the kids often bounce between foster homes.

"If someone is stuck in a foster system for four years when they're a 6 to 10-year-old it can really affect their entire lives," Bryan said.

Bryan said he hopes he can make a difference in the lives of children in each case he works on.

"If they're not protected and taught a different way, they're more likely to be parents like their parents were. It's a cycle that needs to be broken," Bryan said.

He said this experience allows him to appreciate his family more every day.

In 2013, CASA served almost 400 children. That's up from 11 when it started in 1994.

Anyone can be trained to become a CASA. For more information, head to CASA of Missoula.

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