Judge seeks help for abused children

FROM STAFF REPORTS

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Neglect Month, and Judge Jim Kramer is asking for the community’s help now.

“We shouldn’t wait for April to work on preventing child abuse and neglect,” said Kramer. “It is something we have to work on every single day.”

That is what the Court Appointed Special Advocates do, and the group is working to recruit volunteers to do more of it.

Kramer works with the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to assist him with his court cases.

“CASA Volunteers are the ‘eyes and ears’ of my courtroom,” said Kramer. “They go into the homes and on parent visitations with these children where I cannot go, and they report back to me on their findings.”

Kramer said he finds the information provided by these trained volunteers invaluable in his decision making.

CASA volunteers complete a specified training program which qualifies them to assist Kramer. It is a job that he credits with improving the quality of life for children and families and saving the county “hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”

Once they complete training, CASA volunteers are sworn in by Judge Kramer and become official officers of the court. They advocate for the best interests of the children they serve including monitoring their interaction at school and at home.

They investigate all aspects of the case they are assigned by Judge Kramer. They write court reports and are accountable to him in presenting the facts of the case.

“CASA volunteers provide me with valuable information about the daily lives of children and their home lives that I would not know otherwise. They provide me with the information I need to make the best decision for the children in my court,” Kramer said.

CASA training will begin April 5. For more information, download an application at Casaofshelbycounty.org or call 243-8753.

CASA is funded in part by the Department of Child Abuse Prevention and Neglect, also known as The Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama and by a Shelby County Community Grant.