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Paulding Juvenile Court Judge Sandra Miller administered the oath to 21 volunteers to be court-appointed special advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children last week at the historic courthouse in Dallas. Family and friends gathered in the Paulding courthouse to watch the volunteers take an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of the child.
The newly appointed CASA volunteers join 45 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 Melodie Smith, executive director of CASA Paulding. “The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”
With more than 100 children waiting for a CASA volunteer, many more advocates are still needed. There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and completing 30 hours of training.
The next training session for CASA Paulding begins February 22, 2016. To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, contact Maria Rodriguez-Curtis, recruitment and training coordinator at 770-505-0065. The CASA Paulding Program is a member of the National CASA Association, a network of more than 900 CASA programs serving children in 49 states and Washington DC.