A New Year’s Resolution: Advocate for an Abused or Neglected Child

New Year’s resolutions typically focus on self-improvement: lose weight, stop smoking and exercise more often. This year, CASA of Tulare County is encouraging a new, more lasting resolution. Why not resolve to improve the life of a child who has suffered abuse and neglect?

As a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), volunteers receive in-depth training to advocate in court and in the community for the needs and rights of children in foster care. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and professions but have one thing in common: they care about kids.

Orientations for prospective volunteers are offered Mondays at 5:30pm and Thursdays at noon (except on holidays, Dec. 24-Jan. 1). The next training session for CASA volunteers begins Tuesday, January 7, at 5:30pm. All volunteer sessions are held at the CASA office, 1146 N. Chinowth, Visalia.

“Volunteers get to know the child they represent by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be in the child’s best interests,” explained Marilyn Barr, executive director of CASA of Tulare County.

CASA volunteers complete a 38-hour, pre-service training and receive ongoing education and support. Once they are assigned to a case, they can expect to spend an average of 10-12 hours a month getting to know the child, gathering information, exploring resources to meet the child’s needs, representing the child in court every six months and writing their reports.

“It’s one of the most personally rewarding experiences I’ve ever had,” says local volunteer Stacy McNabb. “For many of the kids I’ve worked with, I’ve been the only stable, supportive adult in their lives. My sole responsibility is to protect their rights and to help child welfare services find them a safe and nurturing forever home. I know that I’m not just helping these children, but their kids and their grandkids and generations of kids to follow.”

For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer, call 625-4007.

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