CASA seeking volunteers | RecordCourier.com

CASA seeking volunteers

by Amy Alonzo
aalonzo@recordcourier.com

When children get caught in the legal system, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) helps make their needs heard.

"When a child gets put in the court system, the judge appoints us to be an advocate for the child," said Douglas County CASA Manager Leanne Wagoner. "We try to be a voice for them in court."

CASA of Douglas County is a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, a network of programs in nearly 1,000 communities nationwide.

CASA relies on volunteers. Nationwide there are about 77,000 CASA volunteers — Douglas CASA relies on about two-dozen volunteers to supplement its two paid employees.

"My goal is to always have 25 volunteers consistently," Wagoner said. "I'm slightly short of where my goal would be."

Currently, Wagoner's program has 21 volunteers serving 39 children. By the end of the year, the number of children will have jumped to about 100, she said.

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Douglas volunteers undergo 30 hours of training — 15 hours of classroom training and 15 hours in the field — before being sworn in by a judge. Each case a volunteer works on lasts about 12-18 months.

April is child abuse prevention month, and Wagoner is encouraging community members to find a way to help area children, either through volunteering with CASA or other local organizations.

"We want to advocate for our community to get engaged," she said. "If not as a CASA volunteer, is there something else the can be involved in that can benefit our kids?"

The next Douglas CASA training session is set to begin May 17. For information on becoming a volunteer, contact Wagoner at 782-6247.