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Almost 18,000 children are in foster care in Illinois.

Many of these youth face a challenging and disrupted childhood, as they are placed in a series of foster homes.

Meet @CASAofCookCo volunteer standing up for kids in foster care: Video by @FreeSpiritChi #WhatYouDoMatters

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Providing a valuable lifeline for these young people are Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers research cases, speak in court on children’s behalf and provide a constant in the lives of kids experiencing instability, abuse and neglect in an overwhelmed and under-resourced foster care system.

Free Spirit Media introduces us to Brandon Johnson, a young man placed in foster care when he was only 11 years old, and Tobia Thurman, a CASA volunteer dedicating her life to improving the lives of young people like Brandon. Watch their story: