OLYMPIA -- Thurston County is now recruiting for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) to serve as volunteer advocates for children in court. Children who are removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect need a voice in court proceedings to ensure they are placed in a safe, permanent home in an efficient manner. They need an advocate to share with the court what the child wants and what is in the child's best interest.
Court Appointed Special Advocates are trained volunteers who are asked by a Judge to find out what is in the best interests of an abused or neglected child. Volunteer advocates carefully research the child's world and make recommendations to the Court. The vision of CASA is to ensure that every child has a safe, supportive, and permanent home. A CASA volunteer works as an official part of the judicial proceedings, working alongside attorneys and social workers as the "voice of the child" in court proceedings.
The Thurston County Court Appointed Special Advocate program was first created in 1991, following a yearlong study of similar programs throughout the state. The program began with a core group of 14 highly trained volunteers and now has roughly 50 active members working with 140 dependent children ranging in age from just after birth to age eighteen. CASA volunteers can be assigned one or several cases.
CASA volunteers are required to attend approximately 30 hours of pre-service training, which includes classroom, observation and mentoring hours. Once assigned to a case, the CASA meets with the child at least one time per month and attends hearings typically every three months to present their recommendations for the child in court.
Thurston County CASA Program is now in great need of new volunteers. The next scheduled training is begins on February 22nd, 2008 and there is limited space availability. If you, or someone you know may be interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, or would like additional information about this enriching and impacting opportunity, please contact Wendy Mayo at (360) 709-3231.