TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Could you step up to help a child who has been neglected or abused? If the answer is yes, then you may want to consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
With more than 150 children currently in foster care in Cochise County, volunteers are needed to speak up on their behalf.
CASA volunteers help advocate for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, and are appointed by a Cochise County Superior Court judge. They typically remain an advocate for a child, or siblings, until they either go back to their home, are adopted by another family, or age out of the system at 18.
Cases are assigned based upon preferences and where a volunteer lives. They are encouraged to develop a relationship with the child they represent, and to become the eyes and ears of the judge as their future is determined.
“We have many wonderful volunteers, but we are always in need of more,” said CASA Program Manager Abby Dodge. “We would especially like to see more people from the Douglas, Benson, and Willcox areas.
“This is a great opportunity to make a real difference in the life of a child. CASA is a very rewarding volunteer program which also offers the chance to meet with likeminded individuals who want to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.”
For only the second time, the CASA volunteer training will be held in Sierra Vista, after previously taking place in Tucson and Phoenix.
The three-day academy will be held on July 17, 18 & 19 at the Sierra Vista Police Department and will focus on challenges and issues in rural communities. Topics covered will include the dependency process, the Department of Child Safety, childhood trauma, substance abuse, objectivity and cultural competence, confidentiality, CASA case work, and court reports. There is no cost to attend.
Volunteers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible as they have to be interviewed and fingerprinted, undergo a polygraph test, and attend some pre-training, before the academy.
To apply to become a CASA volunteer call (520) 432-7521 or visit https://www.cochise.az.gov/court-administration/casa