Court Appointed Special Advocates are looking for volunteers from Dickinson County who are interested in helping children thrust into the child welfare system because of alleged or confirmed abuse or neglect.
Tiffany Clark, executive director for CASA of the 8th Judicial District, said there are about 60 children from Dickinson County that are in the foster care system at any given time. In an ideal situation, all of these children would have a CASA appointed to their case. However, currently there are only four CASA volunteers serving Dickinson County children, two of them are from Dickinson County and two are from Geary County.
Clark said she would like 30 trained CASAs. A volunteer is generally appointed to only one or two cases at a time.
“We do the things that the social workers don’t have time to do,” she said.
CASA volunteers are responsible for advocating the best interests of the child and assisting the child in obtaining a permanent, safe and homelike placement.
“We do not want them to linger in foster care,” Clark said. “The state cannot be a parent.”
Among their responsibilities, volunteers investigate the cases, visit the child to monitor their safety, attend court hearings and submit reports to the court about the child’s welfare in order to give the judges a full picture of the case.
“Emotionally, kids need a significant adult in their lives,” Clark said. “If you can’t be a foster parent then CASA is the next best way to serve a child that has been abused or neglected. It gives them someone to stand up for them in court.”
Being a CASA volunteer is not easy, she said. There is work involved and sometimes it can be difficult to hear about some of the cases and some of the pain and suffering children have endured.
“But there is also that peace of knowing you did everything that you could do,” she said. “It is a blessing to know that you made a difference. It does take a special person.”
To become a CASA, volunteers need to complete a 30-hour course. The next one starts Thursday in Geary County. However, Clark said if someone is interested but cannot make it to one or more of the classes on the scheduled dates — she will work one-on-one with them to ensure they complete all the coursework.
Those interested in being a CASA volunteer or want more information should call Clark at 785-762-3907.