Volunteer advocates for children are urgently needed in West Central Illinois.
The Advocacy Network for Children is asking for volunteers to help fill the urgent need for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Currently there are more than fifty children who are in care of the court system in West Central Illinois who need a CASA Volunteer.
Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA for short, are trained community volunteers appointed by a Judge to speak on behalf abused or neglected children in a written report for court proceedings.
Danielle Buss, CASA Manager for the Advocacy Network For Children says a region wide training initiative is being held in October and November for new CASA volunteers in the seven county area.
Buss says issues such as the COVID pandemic, drug abuse, and domestic violence among others is causing more and more children with need for a court appointed advocate in West Central Illinois.
“Our prgram has grown over 90% since 2018, and with that we have many children who have been abused and neglected and the numbers keep rising. Due to that we need CASA Volunteers who are able to step up and help the children who are in foster care and help us get their cases to close faster, with making sure that the children are safe and taken care of.”
The Advocacy Network for Children provides CASA services in Adams, Hancock, Pike, Brown, Schuyler, Cass and Morgan Counties. According to National CASA, a child with a CASA Volunteer receives more services and spends less time in foster care.
Buss says CASA Volunteers can advocate for a child caught up in the court system beyond the ability of a case worker.
“the main difference between our program and case work is that case workers, through no fault of their own, have anywhere between twenty to thirty kiddos they are seeing each month. And that involves parents and foster parents and everything else so they are just beyond busy, and especially right now.
Our CASA Volunteers are able to have one case, one family rather than all thirty of them. It really gives the best interest and the amount of time is good for that family. So it gives kind of a better picture in the sense of our volunteers are then able to see the children more.”
Buss says the upcoming training will be a hybrid of both in-person and virtual learning in an effort to help new volunteers fit the training into their busy schedules.
The hybrid training course begins on October 19th. Buss says the first step is to attend an informational session. You can also contact Danielle Buss at 217-223-2272, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information on their website at advonet.org.