Published July 17, 2014
By Devin Corbitt, News Editor
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) swore in 17 new volunteers on Tuesday after a rigorous training period.
“Seventeen is by far the largest class that’s ever been trained in that program, probably almost double,” Barbie Ott, Interim Director for CASA, said. “I was quite excited about it, and I’m just grateful for it.”
CASA workers and volunteers serve as advocates for abused and neglected children and strive to secure the best interests of the children across Bell and Coryell counties.
“As volunteers, they will get to know the children and families involved and anyone that has anything to do with the children,” Ott said. “That will determine what’s in their (the children’s) best interests. They will contact the school and keep up with any medical needs that they have, basically making sure all of their needs are met, and then they go to the court and advocate for what they believe is in the best interest of the children.”
In order to become volunteers, each inductee completed a 30-hour class that began in June, as well as a minimum of three hours in court observation.
“Many of them made huge commitments and personal sacrifices,” Ott said. “The level of commitment was very humbling.”
Classes involved learning the legal system, how to write court reports and how CASA gets involved in cases.
“We did a lot of work on cultural diversity and looking at things from a different perspective to develop an empathy toward the families we work with,” Ott said. “Reading through course evaluations, almost every single one said they wished we would have had more time (in the classroom).”
CASA now has a total of 64 volunteers, but there is room for many more.
“We’ll never be able to serve all the children in foster care, the need is so huge, but we are well on our way to serving more than we ever have,” Ott said.
For more information or to volunteer, contact the CASA office at (254) 774-1881 or email Ott at firstname.lastname@example.org.