CASA program swears in volunteers
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To volunteer as a CASA contact De Vere Karlson at 775-423-6088 ext. 255.
The first group of Court Appointed Special Advocates was recently sworn in in at District Court.
Program Director De Vere Karlson said she is thrilled with the nine CASAs that have committed to volunteer for the program. She said has accelerated quicker than she thought it would.
“We had to start the program sooner than we though because we have a need for CASAs in Churchill County,” Karlson said. “We were suppose to officially start in January, however, there was an emergency case in September which lead us to training early and since then we now have eight cases that our CASAs are involved in.”
CASA is a volunteer based program that trains and supports volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children who go through the county’s system in the courtroom, home life and community. The CASAs are empowered by the court and offers the judge’s information needed to ensure each child’s rights and needs are being met while in foster care.
Karlson said when the CASAs first join the program she assist the volunteers and has them shadow her to learn the ropes.
Lisa Callahan, CASA volunteer, said she and the other volunteers needed to complete 60 hours of training that consisted of observing court cases, reading manuals, videos, quizzes and test and weekly training.
“I decided to volunteer because I’m at a point in my life, where my kids our out of the house and I have time to devote to the program,” Callahan said. “I want to give a voice to a children that doesn’t have one.”
Susan Warren is another volunteer that was sworn in on Monday. She said her background is in social services but in all of her years she has never had better training than the training the CASA program provided.
“This program has been needed in Churchill County for a long time,” Warren said. “These children need a voice to speak on their behalf and that’s what we do. We don’t want these children to get lost in the system.”
“The program is thankful for the volunteers that have already signed up and committed their time,” Karlson said. “We’re hoping to get at least 15 CASAs so we’ll be able to take on 30 cases.”
“We are in dire need of male volunteers,” Karlson said. “The male volunteers add another dynamic to the program. If we have boys that are going through the system it’s nice to be able to provide that male figure to the case.”
Karlson said she is working with more potential volunteers, one couple that is a husband and wife.
CASA’s and Division of Family Services works closely together in handling cases. Karlson said that DCFS has specifically asked for CASAs help on cases when.
“Right after our volunteers got sworn in one of them got assigned their first case,” she said. “DCFS has such great respect for the CASAs, and we have them same respect for them. I’m glad we have a great partnership and are hre to help the children together.”
The volunteers are responsible for writing independent reports, learning procedures and guidelines and have put up their own money to volunteer and help their children, Karlson said.
“The program is lucky to have the support from the county and volunteers,” Karlson said. “We’ve needed a program like this for some time and I’m happy we’re finally getting the wheels rolling on it. The volunteers are amazing for devoting their time and making sure the children’s best interest are looked out for.”
To volunteer as a CASA ,contact De Vere Karlson at 775-423-6088 ext. 255.