By Jamie Schnell
The court system became overloaded with cases while operating on an emergency basis during Covid. Legal teams, inundated with a backlog of court cases, desperately need added attention to each case to help make an informed decision and lead towards a resolution.
How can we help the children that have entered the court system? One way the court does this is to assign a court-appointed special advocate or CASA. A CASA is a volunteer trained to determine the best interests of abused and neglected children. The goal of this advocacy is to help find each child a safe, loving, and permanent home. A CASA will determine if it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster care or with other relatives, or be freed for permanent adoption.
A court-appointed advocate determines the needs of each child and advocates for them. Each case consists of constant changes for the children. In some cases, children can be moved from family to family until the case is resolved. Consistency is essential to the children in order to minimize trauma and for them to see there is one constant in their world. In order to maintain this sense of stability and consistency, advocates are desperately needed to assist in cases that come into the legal system.
CASA provides instruction to volunteers through a comprehensive 33-hour training program. To become a CASA volunteer, one does not need a specific education or background, just a heart for children and a willingness to advocate for their needs and best interests.
If you are interested in receiving more information, or would like to sign up for the next training class, please visit www.lakewaycasa.org or www.casaofeasttn.org.