Guest Editorial: Volunteers needed
I am writing this in hopes of informing the residents of Carbon and Emery counties of the need for volunteers for the (CASA) Court Appointed Special Advocate program. At this time 16 highly motivated individuals from the area are trying to make a difference in the lives of over 190 children going through the court system through no fault of their own. We are in dire need of additional volunteers, especially male volunteers. The number of new cases grows with each passing day yet the number of new volunteers continues to stagnate. Most CASA volunteers generally handle only one case at a time, and are not burdened with the heavy caseloads that often hinder other state agencies.
Thanks to this unique program, children going through the court system have a voice. Court Appointed Special Advocates step in and literally speak for the children who are victims of abuse and neglect. Once appointed, CASA volunteers talk to the children and find out what their needs and concerns are. They then report to the GAL and judge and try to make sure that these children's opinions and desires are taken into consideration when rulings are made. Often times the CASA is the only person who remains a constant in the lives of these children who have been removed from the only home they have ever known. Lawyers, judges, caseworkers and even their foster homes change, but not the volunteer, he/she is there from the start of the case until the family is reunited or another suitable form of permanence is established, and the case is closed.
Advocates must be able to pass a background check and complete a 32-hour independent study, training-program, that may be completed at your leisure. The volunteer will then be sworn in by the juvenile judge and begin working with the court. This is a very small price to pay for the future of our children. We can and do make a difference.
For more information on the Court Appointed Special Advocate program contact Kerrie Larsen, the CASA Coordinator, at (435) 381-5595 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.