Have you ever felt like you want to help children who cannot help themselves? Then you will certainly want to attend one of two free meetings being held this Wednesday at 800 West State Street, specifically, the CASA office.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, which are trained community volunteers appointed by a judge to speak up for abused and neglected children in the court system.
Jami Ornellas is a CASA and also the lead speaker of the free events on Wednesday. She speaks about exactly what designates someone as a CASA.
“A CASA would have to be at least 21 years old, they would have to complete a background check and attend 30 hours of free training. They would have to follow a youth’s court case from beginning to end. The advocate would make contacts with people in the youth’s family and report that back to the court.”
Training includes courtroom procedures, working with social service agencies, as well as sensitivity training in regards to the special needs of abused and neglected children. Ornellas discusses the process of the CASA program being brought to Morgan County.
“It’s a federally funded program and it’s been around in Adams County for 15 years. The person that writes the grant over there recently expanded to Pike and Morgan and, I believe, Schuyler County. Many other counties in Illinois already have this program, so it will be an asset to Morgan County in bringing them on board with other counties in the state.”
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. No special experience is required. The CASA office would prefer if you RSVP. Ornellas gives her contact information to RSVP.
“You could contact me on my cell at (217) 491-2462 or you can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The two free meetings will be at noon and 5pm Wednesday at the CASA office at 800 West State Street. Each meeting will only last approximately twenty to thirty minutes. Funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocates grant is made possible through the Victims of Crime Act, which is administered through the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority.