Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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April 22, 2014

Training to begin for CASA child advocates

By TYLER MASK

Although National Child Abuse prevention month is quickly coming to a close, the fight against child abuse is far from won. As a part of their continuing efforts, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is beginning training April 28 for those looking to become volunteer advocates for abused or neglected children.

“It’s crucial if you want to be a CASA advocate,” CASA Recruiter and Trainer Trisha Duke said of the training. “It is required. If you have a heart for kids in the foster care system, then this training is for you.”

CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to watch over and speak for abused and neglected children and to ensure that they are not forgotten in the legal and social services systems or the foster care system. Until the kid(s) in a case is placed in a safe and permanent home and the case is closed, a CASA volunteer remains involved.

On a typical month, each volunteer spends approximately 15-20 hours a month on their case. In general, other than four to five court hearing per year and a few meetings, CASA volunteer casework is flexible enough to accommodate most schedules, according to CASA.

All CASA volunteers must complete the 30-hour training course established by Texas CASA.

“At the end of the training, [advocates] get sworn in by a judge and receive a case,” Duke said. “They will have a better understanding of the foster care and judicial systems, and be equipped to be an effective advocate.”

Training is available 9 a.m. to noon and 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., three times a week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and will last until May 8. Morning classes will take place at the CASA office in Weatherford, located at 701 Palo Pinto St., Ste. 701-F. Evening classes will take place at Aledo United Methodist Church, located at 100 Pecan Drive in Aledo.

“There is a huge need for volunteers,” Duke said. “Unfortunately the number of kids going into the foster care system is not declining. CASA Hope for Children is one of only four programs in Texas that has 100-percent coverage for each kid in the system. But we are struggling to maintain that. We projected that we need 100 new advocates this year for the incoming children. We are chipping away at that number, but not as quickly as we need to.”

Those interested in learning more about the CASA program or looking for a volunteer application, call 817-599-6224 or email casa@casaofparkercounty.com. If this session doesn’t fit an individual’s schedule, Duke said not to worry, as CASA offers trainings every six weeks and mixes locations and times up as much as possible.

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