Volunteers are needed to help shepherd abused and neglected Starke County children through the court system. Trained Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASAs for short, are a critical part of the child’s support system. Starke County CASA Executive Director Rhonda Adcock says each relationship is unique, but there are general guidelines.
“Every CASA is going to see their child. They’re going to go and actually lay eyes on them,” Adcock explains. “If they’re old enough they’re going to speak with them. They’re going to speak with whoever is the caregiver. Maybe the child is in the home and it’s the parents. If they’re in foster care, it would be the foster parents. They might see the child’s teacher if the child is school age, the child’s doctor if the child has medical needs.”
Adcock says the CASA volunteer uses information gathered from meeting with the child and adults who have contact with the youngster.
“We become the advocate. Sometimes we’re the facilitator to help the school understand the child’s medical needs, sometimes to go to court to advocate for a specific need that no one else is paying attention to that the child is voicing. We call ourselves the voice of the child, which is very true.”
Adcock says CASA volunteers speak for the child in court.
“Though the older children are able to speak to the judge themselves, that’s kind of daunting to go in, and there’s this man in the black robe, and you know, everybody’s serious. It’s very different than sitting in your living room playing toys with your CASA volunteer and telling them what you want. So we will be the voice of the child, but first we have to talk to everyone in the child’s life and discern what the child’s needs are.”
CASA volunteers spend between five and 15 hours a month advocating for the children in their care. The next CASA Volunteer training sessions begin on March 21st. All will be scheduled in the evenings. Call 574-772-7200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.