2016 Training Dates Set For CASA Volunteers to Speak Up for Local Abused and Neglected Children

Trainings dates are now set up for volunteers wanting to become CASA volunteers, and speak up for local abused and neglected children in 2016.

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Central Texas advocates for abused and neglected children in the community by recruiting, training, and supporting community volunteers. CASA volunteers are appointed to children who are confirmed victims of abuse or neglect, to independently investigate the case and provide recommendations to the family court judge, what is in the best interest of the child. They often serve as the only consistent adult in the child's life. According to Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell, CASA volunteers explain to the child the events that are happening, why they are in foster care, and the roles of the judge, attorneys, and caseworkers. Castilla-Blackwell adds that advocates offer the children what no one else can: consistency and continuity in the middle of a chaotic time. CASA volunteers come from all backgrounds with different experiences and CASA of Central Texas provides the necessary training. More volunteers are needed in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Hays Counties. Castilla-Blackwell advises becoming a CASA volunteer is a way to make a direct impact in your community one child at a time. In 2015, CASA of Central Texas served 445 children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties but there were still children who did not have the voice of a CASA volunteer. Free training courses will be held throughout the year, with the first starting the week of January 12th. in both San Marcos and New Braunfels office locations. 

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"CASA volunteers explain to the child the events that are happening, why they are in foster care, and the roles the judge, attorneys, and caseworkers play. Advocates offer the children what no one else can: consistency and continuity in the midst of all the chaos the children are experiencing." Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell said. "In the course of a typical case, the child will experience several foster placements, new schools, caseworker turnover and one Advocate. The trust that is built allows the CASA to encourage the children to express their feelings and to feel safe. All the while the advocates remain objective observers."

"Initially, I was very skeptical of the CASA program because they have no training, no background in psychology, sociology, no university training. Over the years, I've learned that may be their biggest asset," District Judge Jack Robison said at a recent swearing in of CASA Volunteers. "They bring their experience, their common sense and their empathy to the program. Their only agenda is the welfare of a child."

More volunteers are needed in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties. Castilla-Blackwell said becoming a CASA volunteer is a way to make a direct impact in your community one child at a time.

"We assign our volunteers to one case at a time, to make sure the children receive the attention they need. But, that means we are only serving as many children as we have volunteers," Castilla-Blackwell said. "We need more volunteers to reach our goal of serving 100 percent of the children who are currently in the state's care."

CASA Volunteer Bob Williams encourages others to sign up for training and become an advocate.

"You will bring to bear all the experience of your lifetime in advocating for your child within the various agencies and with involved people. The judge will depend on you for informed advice on the best welfare for the child. You will be the eyes and ears of the court," he said. "Do it! Volunteer!  Be a CASA!

To enroll in a training course, please contact CASA at (512) 392-3578 or (830) 626-2272, or visit www.casacentex.org.

Learn more about CASA at a monthly information session, held the first Wednesday of each month at the New Braunfels CASA office, and the third Wednesday of each month in the San Marcos CASA office, both from noon to 1 p.m. Additional information sessions will be held in January in Kyle, Lockhart, Schertz and Canyon Lake. Check www.casacentex.org for times and locations.

Attached photo: New CASA volunteers were sworn in December 11. These volunteers will soon be appointed to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system. More volunteers are needed and training starts in January. Visit www.casacentex.org for more information.

Pictured l-r are: Mary Navarrette of Guadalupe County, Samantha Hillis of Comal County, Briana Woodard of Guadalupe County, Christine Harbach of Comal County, Jasmin Cruz of Hays County, Amy Williams of Hays County, Judge Charles Stephens II, Michael Nash of Comal County, Katherine Borchert of Hays County, Jessica Celestino-Smith of Comal County, Linda Kerger of Guadadalupe County, and Alvino and Ester Regalado of Hays County.

 

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