Children’s advocacy program seeks volunteers

Consider becoming a CASA volunteer to ensure all children have a safe home. (Special/Beth Chapman)

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Shelby County is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains volunteers to go through the court process with abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers are advocates for the children they serve.

Judge Jim Kramer presides over our county’s Juvenile Court and chooses which cases will be assigned to a CASA volunteer. He court orders the CASA volunteer to work with the child to ensure that his or her best interests are met.

This may be done by meeting with and interviewing the child’s family and writing a court report regarding their findings. They may also supervise visitations between the child and their parents or guardians and follow up on issues as ordered by the court.

Some of those issues may be checking to see if the family and child are in counseling if so ordered by the court. They also ensure there is nothing threatening the safe living environment that all children deserve. Their job is to ensure that everyone involved in the child’s case is abiding by the judge’s order.

CASA is looking for people who are interested in becoming volunteers and assisting these children in need.

“There are no specific requirements a person needs that will not be provided in our training program,” said CASA Board President Helen Dean. “We make sure that our volunteers are equipped with the knowledge and training they need to work with the children they serve.”

Dean said more than anything, volunteers need to have a heart for children and a desire to see the children they serve are well represented in all areas of their case.

A 40-hour training program is required of everyone who is interested in becoming a CASA volunteer. The training classes are held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m. and training will begin March 7 and end on March 31. All classes will be held at the First Methodist Church in Columbiana.

Once a CASA volunteer is sworn in by Judge Kramer, they become official officers of the court.
If you would like more information on CASA of Shelby County, please visit Casaofshelbycounty.org, download, complete and mail in your volunteer application at your earliest convenience.

Interviews for new volunteers will be held on March 3. If interested, please call Volunteer Coordinator, Mac Stinson at 669-6498 to schedule an appointment.

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at bethchapman@bellsouth.net.