NELA urgently needs volunteer advocates for foster children

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MONROE, Louisiana (KNOE) – CASA in northeast Louisiana says it is in dire need of volunteers. CASA volunteers advocate for foster children in the justice system.

At the end of June, there were around 380 children in foster care and only 110 CASA volunteers.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, and volunteers give a voice to foster children in court. Sometimes these volunteers are the only stable thing the children can rely on during the process.

Volunteers typically see the child they serve in person once a month, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made that impossible.

“As we come out of this pandemic, we find that we are losing a lot of volunteers, a lot of older volunteers who just aren’t comfortable yet, seeing a child face to face, meeting collaterals, meeting the people who are involved in the matter and get all the information they need. We urgently need new volunteers, ”said Leslie Bryan, CASA de NELA’s community development coordinator.

CASA de NELA serves 11 parishes, and they say they are seeing an influx of children right now.

It takes five weeks of online training to become a CASA volunteer. Anyone 21 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license may be eligible. There is also a background check with a pre-interview. Then the person will complete 30 hours of online training before being sworn in by a judge and assigned a case to them.

CASA says it needs volunteers from all regions, but has a harder time finding volunteers in the rural parishes it serves.

“CASA is a court-appointed special advocate for children, children who have been taken from their homes due to abuse or neglect. We, as an agency, train community volunteers to speak out on behalf of these children in court. A CASA sees their child face to face once a month, they advocate for their needs, educational, medical, psychological everything. They stand up for the wants and desires of the child, ”Bryan said.

A volunteer should be ready to get involved until the case is closed.

Bryan says a child with a court-appointed special advocate is twice as likely to find a safe, permanent home as a child without.

Click here for more information on applying to become a CASA volunteer.

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