There are abused and neglected children in the Morgan County court system, waiting for a C.A.S.A. volunteer. C.A.S.A. stands for Court Appointed Child Advocate, volunteers who serve as a special advocate for children in foster care.
C.A.S.A. of Morgan County, a program of the Advocacy Network for Children, is recruiting volunteers for an upcoming training session at their offices on West State Street in Jacksonville.
Libby Gaige with C.A.S.A., spoke with WLDS News recently on the role a C.A.S.A volunteer serves.
“Our program is totally volunteer driven, so we train our volunteers and we train them on all aspects of being a compassionate and objective and self motivated individual to speak for these children in the courtroom.
Presently we have 17 volunteers in Morgan county, and we always need more. Right now we have 14 cases but we are always receiving more. And we are supported strongly by the court system.”
Gaige said the experience can be very rewarding for the volunteer and explained how the process works.
“Our volunteers become mandated court reporters, and they are sworn in by Judge Tobin, and they are given the privilege to have access to all information about the cases they are covering.
Typically a volunteer handles one case at at time, and by that, that means a family, which can be one child or however many a family might have. Right now we have one case that has five children, but usually at most it is two or three.
The volunteers make appointments to see these children at their own leisure. They go to talk with them, to find out what their wishes are in court, how they are doing, how they are feeling, so it is a totally rewarding position for the volunteer.”
Gaige gave further details on what duties a child advocate volunteer serves for children in need.
“A case is typically called to court about every six months. So the volunteers have the opportunity to get to know the child, and maybe even play some board games, and have some talks, eat pizza whatever. And then the volunteer is required to do a report to the court and assess the child reporting any concerns, any recommendations, and the court looks upon the report of the C.A.S.A. With very much confidence that it is something to be paid attention to.”
An informational meeting about the training session and about just what C.A.S.A. volunteers do, will be held next Wednesday October 30th at 12:15 pm at their office located at 800 West State Street in Jacksonville. The meeting is expected to last about 30 minutes and is designed to explain the program in detail and answer any questions prospective volunteers may have.
Training for new Morgan County C.A.S.A. Volunteers will be held from November 11th through the 14th from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the C.A.S.A. office. Court observation, presentation of certificates and a swearing in of volunteers will be held on November 21st at the Morgan County Courthouse.
For more information or to obtain and application, please call Libby Gaige at 217-971-0531 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also visit the agency’s website at www.advonet,org