Columbus – Eight new Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers received their oath of office last week at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.
Executive Director Therese Miller welcomed the new volunteers to Advocates for Children’s staff.
“You may not be paid for your work,” Miller told them, “but we consider you a part of our staff. You do the important work of guaranteeing that the children you serve will find a safe and stable permanent family as quickly as possible.”
Each year, more than 500 abused and neglected children in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties enter the child welfare system, and this year a spike in the cases of abuse and neglect in all three counties has heightened the need for trained Advocates.
“We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of cases before the courts compared to this time last year,” said Rick Scalf, Advocates for Children’s Community Outreach Coordinator. “Each of these children has a right to a safe, loving and permanent home, and without a CASA volunteer by their side, that might not happen.”
CASA volunteers undergo 30 hours of training in order to prepare them to represent the best interests of the children they serve, and are supported by professional staff. CASA volunteers work with everyone involved in the children’s cases in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. Children with a CASA volunteer are more likely do well in school, receive more services while they are in the child welfare system, and are half as likely to re-enter that system once they have left it.
With the demand for CASA volunteers higher than ever, Advocates for Children has already begun the next training class, and is taking applications for those interested in joining the following class which will begin in August.
“CASA volunteers come from all walks of life,” said Miller. “All you need is common sense and a commitment to our children. You’ll find that being a CASA volunteer rewards you with some of the most powerful and fulfilling experiences you can have. Not only will you lift up the life of a child, but your own life as well.”
Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer, or looking for more information about the upcoming training session are urged to visit Advocates for Children’s website, apowerfulvoice.org, or call the office at (877) 604-9402.
– Daily News