Photo: The latest class of Court Appointed Special Advocates was sworn in April 21. These volunteers will soon be assigned to children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect and are now placed in the state’s care. As advocates, the volunteers will get to know everyone in the children’s lives and speak up for them in court, advocating for their best interest. More volunteers are needed and training starts in May. Pictures l-r are: Michael Vybiral of Comal County, Norma Baldwin of Comal County, (Judge McClenahan), Megan Rutledge of Hays County and Adam Wilson of Comal County.
CASA Need Volunteer Advocates
*Editor’s Note: If you have ever thought about volunteering your time, this is very special, worthy, and rewarding way to give back to the children in our community.
Enrollment is open for training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate and make a difference in the life of a child, and more volunteers are needed.
CASA of Central Texas volunteer advocate Rose Tempfer was sworn in to the program in 2007.
“Working with youth is rewarding when you step back and watch the progress they make. It feels good to make a difference!”
CASA of Central Texas advocates for abused and neglected children in the community by recruiting, training, and supporting community volunteers. CASA volunteers are appointed to children who are confirmed victims of abuse or neglect to independently investigate the case and provide recommendations to the family court judge, what is in the best interest of the child. They often serve as the only consistent adult in the child’s life.
“CASA volunteers explain to the child the events that are happening, why they are in foster care, and the roles the judge, attorneys, and caseworkers play. Advocates offer the children what no one else can: consistency and continuity in the midst of all the chaos the children are experiencing.” Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell said. “In the course of a typical case, the child will experience several foster placements, new schools, caseworker turnover and one Advocate. The trust that is built allows the CASA to encourage the children to express their feelings and to feel safe. All the while the advocates remain objective observers.”
More volunteers are needed in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties. Castilla-Blackwell said becoming a CASA volunteer is a way to make a direct impact in your community one child at a time.
“We assign our volunteers to one case at a time, to make sure the children receive the attention they need. But, that means we are only serving as many children as we have volunteers,” Castilla-Blackwell said. “We need more volunteers to reach our goal of serving 100 percent of the children who are currently in the state’s care.”
Tempfer encourages others to sign up for training.
“After almost 8 years as an advocate, I still feel like I make a difference in the lives of the children! It never gets old. I count my blessings every day,” she said. “I am thankful that more and more advocates are added to the team in order to assist more of our Little Texans.”
In 2014, CASA of Central Texas served more than 450 children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties but there were still children who did not have the voice of a CASA volunteer. Free training courses start the first week of May in both San Marcos and New Braunfels office locations. To enroll in a training course, please contact CASA at (512) 392-3578 or (830) 626-2272, or visit www.casacentex.org.
Learn more about CASA at a monthly information session, held the first Wednesday of each month at the New Braunfels CASA office, and the second Wednesday of each month in the San Marcos CASA office, both from noon to 1 p.m.