RUTLEDGE – Lakeway CASA of Grainger County held its first swearing in ceremony Tuesday,
Judge Lane Wolfenbarger swore in new CASA volunteers Pam and Keith Scott and Walter Cross. All three are Grainger County community members.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA is a national association that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children.
CASA’s are trained local citizen volunteers, that represent the best interest of children in juvenile abuse and neglect cases. Appointed by local judges, a CASA advocates for children in court and other settings.
Lakeway CASA was formed in 2012 and first operated in Hamblen and Jefferson counties. In 2017 they expanded into Sevier County and now have expanded into Grainger County.
Each new CASA volunteer advocate receives 30 hours of classroom training. This training helps them acquire the knowledge, skills and attitude needed to become a successful advocate. Topics covered in training include: Introduction to the Law, Child Protection System & Juvenile Court, Cultural Competence and Child Advocacy, Risk Factors for Abuse & Neglect, The Impact of Poverty and Substance Abuse on Families, Childhood Development, Attachment & Resilience, Permanence for Children, Written & Verbal Communication Skills, Writing Court Reports, Testifying in Court, Case Investigation, Dealing with Conflict and Understanding Confidentiality.
Once trained, volunteers gather information about all aspects of the case, interview parties involved and provide written reports at court hearings. They appear in court to advocate for the child’s best interests and provide testimonies when necessary. CASA volunteers explain to the child what is going and help that child understand the court proceedings. They seek to “be the glue” and find cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children’s lives.
As one volunteer said, “Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.”
In addition, volunteers recommend services and ensure that the children and their family are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. They bring concerns about the child’s health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals. CASA volunteers keep the court informed and update the court on developments with agencies and family members.
Lakeway CASA will be holding its next New Volunteer Class in Sevier County beginning Monday, August 2 and its Hamblen New Volunteer Class beginning Tuesday, August 31.
Volunteers are needed for many roles; from a CASA advocate to a board member. Lakeway CASA is asking the Grainger County community to help spread the word about this important program that helps the most vulnerable children in Grainger County.
For more information, call the Lakeway CASA Office at (423) 307-5762 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.