Karen McCulloch (left), Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer supervisor, and Crystal Guess, Junior’s House, Inc. Child Advocacy Center executive director, jointly train CASA volunteers. Volunteers are empowered by the court and make a positive impact on the lives of abused and neglected children.
Junior’s House, Inc. Child Advocacy Center is looking for adults with a heart for kids to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for child victims of abuse and neglect. Training for CASA volunteers for Lincoln and Marshall counties will be from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. one day per week for three weeks beginning March 28. Training will be held at Junior’s House, 704 Market Street West.
CASA volunteers can make a positive and permanent change in a child’s life, said Crystal Guess, Junior’s House, Inc. executive director. She said the volunteers are empowered directly by the courts and are trained to understand the impact of trauma on children. “CASA volunteers gather information from all parties,” said Guess. “Families are very open with us and don’t usually have any issues with us.
“Safety is our number one priority,” she said. “This provides the court and judge with informed recommendations to advocate for the best interests of the child.” Except in cases of an emergency, children are not usually taken from their homes, Guess said.
CASA volunteers will advocate for services that promote healing, helping children develop resilience without causing additional trauma.
The volunteer may see the child multiple times at the beginning of the case and continue to visit them at least once per month afterward, until the case is resolved. “Typically we want a volunteer to have one case,” said Karen McCulloch, CASA volunteer supervisor.
Most cases last about 90 days, but some have gone as long as one to two years, Guess said. Junior’s House tries to match volunteers with the age and culture along with the schedule they are most comfortable with. Some volunteers prefer to work with young children and others with teens.
Children who have faced significant trauma or hardships benefit tremendously when a supportive adult provides a stable and understanding relationship, Guess said.
For more information about CASA, call 931-438-3233.