Volunteers to assist abused and neglected children are needed in Brown, Cass and Schuyler counties.
The Advocacy Network for Children is in need Court Appointed Special Advocates, or C.A.S.A. Volunteers to represent abused and neglected children in the court systems of Brown, Cass and Schuyler counties.
Danielle Buss serves as the C.A.S.A. Manager for the seven county area in the Advocacy Network, and says that the program is new to Brown, Cass and Schuyler counties.
“We just got our program up and running there so we are looking for volunteers in those counties. Our volunteers go through a training and then after the training and background check they receive a case. The case is a child or family group who, the child or children have been abused or neglected, and it is no fault of their own that they are in the system. The volunteers will go and see the children at their foster home, or with their biological parents, or at school and be in as much contact with everyone who is in the child’s life as possible in order to write a court report to the judge.”
C.A.S.A. Volunteers are appointed by a judge to speak on the behalf of the children in these court cases. Buss says that these volunteers can be vital in making sure the judge has all of the information to determine what is in the best interest of the child in these cases.
“the best way that we can explain it is that the volunteers are kind of the eyes and the ears for the judge and the attorneys. The state’s attorney and the judge cannot go out to see the kids and find out what is going on, they have to make decisions based off of our report and the case worker’s report. So having two reports instead of one is helpful for them and it gives them more information to be able to make a decision for the child.”
Anyone interested in finding out more information on becoming a trained C.A.S.A. Volunteer from the three county area can attend one of two informational meetings scheduled for Wednesday, February 26th at 12:15 pm in Mt. Sterling at Brews, located at 113 West Main Street, or in Beardstown on Wednesday, March 4th at 12:15 pm, at the the Cass county CASA office at 301 West 4th Street. Each meeting will last about 30 minutes.
Buss says that the need for volunteers is great in all seven counties they serve, but especially as they move the program into this new area.
“In all of these counties we are in a big need of volunteers, there are more kids in the foster care system now than there ever has been. So anyone who loves kids and wants to learn more, they can give us a call at our office and we would be more than happy to give them more information.
We have not had a training yet in Brown, Cass or Schuyler counties since they are so new to the program, so we really need volunteers and again, anyone who could be interested, we would love to hear from them.”
An accelerated training for volunteers has been set for Friday, March 20th and Saturday March 21st at the office in Beardstown and will conclude with court observation and a swearing in of volunteers at a later date and time that will be determined later.
For more information about the program or to volunteer to become an advocate, contact the Advocacy Network for Children at 217-223-2272, or area CASA coordinator Karolina Anton, at 217-617-6058, or on the web at w