MISSION, Kan. (KCTV) -- On Wednesday, CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties urged the need for more Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA volunteers.

In the most serious cases, when a child is removed from their home because of abuse and neglect, a judge assigns a CASA volunteer. CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties expects to advocate for the best interest of about 500 kids in those counties this year, but it’s only a third of the children under court protection.

While most children get adopted out of foster care in about 18 months with a CASA, one boy waited 10 years for his forever home.

Beth Shelley and her husband Tim adopted 15-year-old Jacob last December. Jacob’s CASA was Ballard Yeates. The pair grew together during the decade-long process.

“Ten different foster homes, 10 different schools. 10 different sets of friends. 10 of everything, but only one CASA,” shared Yeates, who was with Jacob through his journey in foster care.

Yeates became a CASA volunteer after hearing about hundreds of kids being removed from their homes in 2008. He’s helped dozens of children in his time as a volunteer, but he was with Jacob the longest.

“I think he always had the hope that ‘I will find my forever home,” said Yeates.

In 2021, the Shelley’s met Jacob over a video conference call because of pandemic protocol. They finally met in person a few months later. Yeates says it was a “kismet” moment.

“What mattered was the connection that we found with Jacob and we just knew that was our kid. That was our son,” said Beth Shelley as she gushed about her son’s bright, bubbly, and funny personality.

Yeates is no longer Jacob’s CASA, but he encourages others to volunteer and be a voice for kids. For him, it was his way to pay it forward for having a wonderful childhood.

If you’d like to volunteer visit casakc.org or call 913-715-4040.

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