If you agree that not much is sadder - and potentially more unsettling to our society - than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.

You can advocate for a child who ends up in court because parents or guardians can't keep their own lives together - whether because of broken relationships, crime, drug or alcohol obsession, domestic violence, poverty, physical or mental illness, or, likely, a combination of those factors.

You can understand how this child is scared as the mysteries of the legal system play out before young eyes. Even in the worst family relationship, kids hang on to any remnant of support they can find.

No matter their individual circumstance, these children need advocates if their lives are to be redirected before they are lost to a cycle of abuse, poverty, crime and despair.

This is where many social and religious agencies step in, but most especially the Court Appointed Special Advocate program - CASA.

Nationally, CASA units exist in 951 communities, serving 238,000 abused or neglected children. A juvenile court judge in Seattle started the idea in 1977, and, as the need has grown in the nearly 40 years since, so have the number of CASA units.

But as in so many critical areas of our society, the need far exceeds the response.

Jefferson county has an average of about 70 children involved in the court system every year.

It's not an easy commitment. To become a CASA, one must take training and be willing to check in with the child on a regular basis, which seems minimal to maintain any level of personal contact. And it means tough skin and a caring heart.

The family situations will not be pretty, but they can be softened for the child by showing concern, constancy, loyalty and even family affection.

What it comes down to is one committed adult - you - to match up with one vulnerable child to help give that child a better chance to succeed.

To become involved, visit www.childadvocatesnetwork.org/contact-us. Your help is needed.