Mena, AR—On January 11th, 2017, the Hon. Judge Jerry Ryan swore in a new CASA volunteer, Casey Kelley. CASA volunteers are Court-Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children.
Family and friends gathered in the Polk County courthouse to watch the new volunteer take an oath, promising to advocate for the best interest of the child.
The newly appointed CASA volunteer joined 30 other dedicated community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the county’s juvenile dependency court system. As officers of the court, they ensure that the children’s needs are recognized and best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.
CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child regularly and are authorized to interview people in the child’s life such as social workers, attorneys, and teachers. They attend court hearings with the child and report their findings to the judge.
“Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home,” said Cynthia Martin director of CASA of the Ouachita Region. “The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”
There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening, and successfully completing 30 hours of training.
The next advocate training session for CASA of the Ouachita Region begins February 2017. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact Cynthia Martin or Renee Hendrix at 479-243-9277.
CASA of the Ouachita Region is a member of the National CASA Association, a network of more than 900 CASA programs serving children in 49 states and Washington D.C.