“What I’ve learned as a CASA volunteer is how important a role CASA plays in the lives of our children. We are their confidants, friends and sometimes sole defenders for their rights and their voice.”
Get involved this year! More volunteers are needed to speak up for local abused and neglected children in Central Texas. Trainings are set to become a CASA volunteer in 2017, including three sessions beginning in January.
“I became a CASA volunteer because I wanted to be able to give a voice to kids that felt like they didn’t have a voice. So many of them get lost in the system and I just wanted to make a difference for them,” said Dorthy Walker, CASA of Central Texas volunteer since 2014. “What I’ve learned as a CASA volunteer is how important a role CASA plays in the lives of our children. We are their confidants, friends and sometimes sole defenders for their rights and their voice.”
Court Appointed Special Advocates 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.”
CASA volunteers come from all backgrounds with different experiences and CASA of Central Texas provides the necessary training. 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.”
Walker encourages others to sign up for training and become an advocate.
“To anyone considering being a CASA volunteer, I would say go for it!” She said. “The time you spend is well worth the difference you will make in our children’s lives and well-being. You will not find a worthier cause.”
More than half of the children in State care do not have a CASA volunteer in Central Texas. That is more than 700 children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties. Free training courses will be held throughout the year, with the first starting the week January 16 in both San Marcos and New Braunfels office locations, including a Saturday course. For dates and 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, the third Wednesday of each month in the San Marcos CASA office, and the fourth Wednesday of each month at the GVEC Community Room in Seguin, all from noon to 1 p.m. An information session is also held the fourth Thursday of each month in the GVEC Community Room in Schertz from 6 – 7 p.m. Additional information sessions will be held as scheduled. Check www.casacentex.org for times and locations.