Heart of Missouri CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) believes that all children have the right to safe, healthy, stable homes, free from abuse and neglect. A CASA volunteer, serving as a court-appointed advocate, is trained to promote and pursue the best interest of an abused or neglected child in court, and prevents the child from getting lost in the system by being sensitive to the child’s needs and presenting these needs in court.
The role of the CASA volunteer in a child abuse or neglect case is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the case, make an independent evaluation with recommendations regarding actions the CASA believes are in the child’s best interest – both short and long term, and to monitor the case until a permanent placement is achieved. Through these advocacy efforts, CASA is working with the Court to ensure that every child has a chance for a brighter future.
On Wednesday, Suzanne Guerrant discussed the Heart of Missouri CASA, which has been active since 2005 when volunteers began working Boone County. Expansion of the Heart of Missouri CASA to Callaway County in 2013 with three advocates. The three initial cases handled by the Callaway CASA volunteers have been closed; two were adopted and one aged out of the system. There are now 22 CASA volunteers serving in Callaway County with 15 of them having working on 18 cases, Most of these cases involve kids that have suffered unspeakable trauma.
What can you do to help? Pray for the CASA program and its volunteers. Raise awareness of the CASA program. And, most importantly, volunteer to be a CASA. Individuals who wish to volunteer must be over 21 years of age, have a desire to help children, have a passion for kids, and be able to make a two year commitment to the CASA program. CASAs must also be able to appear in family court, which is held on Tuesdays in Callaway County.
If you are interested in being a voice for a child, contact CASA. Their next training class in Callaway County is as follows: September 6, September 13, September 20, September 27, and October. Classes will be from 6-9 p.m.