Volunteers sworn in
Tyler County’s first Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteers were sworn in by Tyler County Circuit Court Judge Mark A. Karl on Tuesday.
“We’re still looking for volunteers in Tyler County,” said Susan Harrison, CASA Executive Director. “Volunteers represent the best interests of children who have been abused or neglected, here in the county.”
Becoming a CASA volunteer requires a commitment to children, objectivity, responsibility, communication skills and about 10-15 hours a month to devote to the program.
Once accepted into the program, volunteers are trained in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system, and the special needs of neglected or abused children. “CASA volunteers are an independent voice in the legal system,” explained Harrison. “They are there to help the judge make an informed decision about the best interests of the child.”
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.
“I think the reason more people don’t come forward to volunteer is, they don’t think they have the skills to do the job,” said Harrison. “The most important requirement is the volunteer’s genuine concern for children.”
Last year, more than 75,000 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers helped 240,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. CASA volunteers are everyday citizens who have undergone screening and training with their local CASA/GAL program.Judge Mark Karl congratulated the newly-sworn volunteers at the conclusion of the ceremony and said, “I look forward to working with each one of you.”
Tyler County volunteers include Katrina Byers, Jessica Stine, and Lucy Kincaid.
CASA is a nonprofit organization that trains community volunteers to speak in court solely for children. The program is accredited by the National CASA Association and serves Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler Counties.
For information on the program and to find out how to become a volunteer, call Susan Harrison at 304-810-0952.
The community is invited to attend an informational session July 6 at 5 p.m., at 258 Jefferson Ave.,, Moundsville.