By CLINT FOSTER
The Court Appointed Special Advocate program of Palo Pinto and Parker Counties recently learned they will receive grant funds from the Walton Family Foundation to increase staff and better serve abused and neglected children in this area.
“That news was certainly like a terrific firework of positive light for us,” said local CASA Executive Director Bob Tucker.
CASA uses volunteers as advocates for local neglected and abused children who are in the foster care system.
Each advocate must complete a 30-hour training course before they can be sworn in by a judge and assigned a case, according to Trisha Duke, CASA recruiter and trainer.
But in order to have more volunteers, Duke explained, CASA must first hire another volunteer coordinator. That’s where the Walton Family Foundation grant comes in.
“Due to the requirements set by Texas CASA, our volunteer coordinators can only have a maximum of 30 advocates that they can manage or supervise,” she explained. “So, in order to be able to serve more children, we need more advocates to help them out. If we didn’t have this volunteer coordinator, we couldn’t have the advocates we need to make sure every child in the system in Palo Pinto and Parker County has a volunteer advocate.”
Duke said advocates are responsible for getting to know the child or children in their case, make fact-based recommendations and express any concerns to make sure the best interests of those children are met.
“They write a report and it goes directly to the judge,” she said. “They then arrive at the court case and the hearing and speak up on behalf of that kiddo.”
According to Duke, the local CASA chapter is one of only four programs in Texas that covers 100 percent of local children in foster care. But she added they will need more than just money to keep this statistic true.
“We’re always needing more advocates,” she said, adding, “Unfortunately, the numbers [of children in foster care] are growing so quickly that, if we don’t get more advocates soon, we may not be able to cover every child. I don’t even want to think about that.”
For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer or how to donate, contact Duke at 817-599-6224 or email@example.com.
Follow Clint on Twitter @Clint_Foster55