By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

CASA Recruiting More Volunteers in Valley County

 


Thursday, May 11, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program Director Mark Douglass will be in the community room of the Valley County Courthouse from noon to 7 p.m., to answer questions and provide information about CASA and its mission. Douglass intends on providing as much information as possible about being a CASA advocate and what the responsibilities entail. There will be no schedule or course of events, and Douglass was adamant that, “Walk-ins are not only welcome, they’re encouraged.”

CASA advocates are volunteers from the local community who can serve in court, advocating for abused or neglected children. The purpose is to have an individual who can work with the wide array of people involved in a court case and make sure the best interests of the child are being adhered to. Advocates work with lawyers, doctors, law enforcement and the judge to accomplish this goal. According to Douglass, “The volunteer-advocate gets to know a child and their specific circumstances to provide the level of knowledge necessary to treat the child as a person and not just a case number.”


Two weeks ago, CASA planted a pinwheel garden to raise awareness of the children from our local communities who are in foster care, abused or neglected. Recent volunteers have improved the program, but with so many cases in the county more advocates are needed to ensure no child is left without support. The recruitment drive is an effort to inform as many people as possible about the details of CASA and being an advocate.

No experience in child advocacy or working with the courts is necessary. CASA begins with a 30-hour course held over the course of a few weeks and also online. Following the course, the advocate will begin to take on cases advocating for youth in Valley County. The next pre-service training begins May 22 and all interested persons should stop in Thursday to see Douglass at the courthouse, or contact him at casa@hrdc4.org or 406-265-6743 ext. 1135 to learn more.

 

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