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RBC | Not only is April Child Abuse Prevention Month but is also National Volunteer Month! So, consider this a call to action for community members with the time to commit and a passion to advocate for abused and neglected children to become volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Ninth.
CASA of the Ninth Judicial District was founded in 2011 to serve children in Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco Counties who have suffered the traumas of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing domestic violence. When a child enters the dependency and neglect system, the CASA volunteer may be the one constant presence in their life until they are returned to or placed in a safe, loving, and permanent home. A CASA volunteer’s role is to gather information about the child and make recommendations to the court so that the judge can make an informed decision in the child’s best interest.
No previous experience in child welfare or in law is needed to become a CASA volunteer. Volunteer advocates must be at least 21 years old and pass a thorough background check. CASA volunteers need to have passion to advocate for these kids, be non-judgmental, objective, and be committed to the case for the duration it is open. Volunteers will need to complete 30 hours of training and be committed to 12 hours of continuing education a year. Once trained, the time commitment is roughly 8-10 hours a month and a case can last from 12 to 24 months.
CASA volunteers have proven to be a positive influence on a child’s long-term development, including better performance in school, spending less time in foster care, getting the services they need, and ultimately ending up in a safe, loving, and permanent home.
Advocate Supervisor Brittney Shonk of Meeker started with CASA as a volunteer in June 2018. “I am a CASA advocate and it has brought a sense of fulfillment I never knew I needed. I am a busy mom, business owner, and wife and it has brought a different level of joy to my life. If you are passionate about making a difference in the life of a child and are committed to giving all children the best chance for the future they deserve, what a better place to start than right here in our community. CASA volunteers are community members, just like you. In Rio Blanco, we support each other no matter the age.”
CASA training in Meeker will begin later this spring. If you are interested in joining us to make a positive impact on the lives of children in our community who have been abused or neglected, or if you have questions about being a CASA volunteer, please reach out to our Advocate Supervisor Brittney Shonk, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-987-4332.
Special to the Herald Times