Make a difference in the life of a child!
(Editor’s note: Rachel Autry is the advocacy and recruitment coordinator for Tri-County CASA Inc.)
The month of April recognizes national child abuse prevention awareness and education. COVID-19 is preventing many of those who normally see children on a daily basis from doing so. It is more important than ever to be those eyes and ears of our community.
Along with community partners, here is how one agency is doing its part.
Tri-County CASA Inc. volunteers have been advocating for the foster children of Appling, Wayne and Jeff Davis counties for more than 20 years. CASA volunteers, or court-appointed special advocates, are specially trained community citizens who advocate for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. These amazing volunteers are agents of the court, appointed by juvenile court judges, and advocate for the child’s best interest. The CASA volunteer offers the judges a broad and objective picture of the child’s life so that they can make the most informed decision for that child’s permanent placement.
It is through review, research, meetings and visits that a CASA volunteer gathers information and monitors the child’s case through the juvenile legal system. A CASA volunteer engages regularly with his or her assigned child and creates and fosters a close relationship not only to be a voice for that child but to convey to the court that child’s wishes for a permanent home.
CASA volunteers are everyday citizens and bring a wealth of personal and professional wisdom, along with specialized training, observation and support. Volunteers are at least 21 years of age, consent to and pass a thorough background check, and complete 40 hours of classroom training and courtroom observation. CASA volunteers are screened to uphold professional and unbiased requirements, continue training throughout their commitment, and report suspected child abuse and neglect. All of these requirements ensure that the highest possible standards are maintained.
Tri-County CASA volunteers range in age from the early 20s to the 70s and have varied educational backgrounds, and more than half work either full-time or part-time while volunteering. CASA volunteers are supported by Tri-County CASA staff throughout their assignments and are offered additional training, support and education to serve their children and continue to advocate for their child’s best interest.
It takes only one person to make a lifelong difference in the life of a child. Is that person YOU? Tri-County CASA Inc. continues to accept volunteers and offers volunteer training classes year-round. To find out more about this nonprofit organization and how you can become an advocate for local foster children, contact Tri-County CASA Inc. at (912) 367-0064, or visit our website at tri-countycasainc.org or our Tri-County CASA Inc. Facebook page.
To report suspected child abuse and/or neglect, call 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4253). Reports are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.