Kramer seeking CASA volunteers to help stop child abuse

FROM STAFF REPORTS

COVID-19 has stopped many things—schools from meeting, churches from congregating and offices from working, but it has not stopped child abuse from occurring, according to Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Jim Kramer. That is why he and others are seeking volunteers to become Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

CASA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect, and recruits and trains volunteers to go through the court process with children who have been abused and neglected. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that every child has a safe and permanent home.

“We need volunteers desperately,” Kramer said. “COVID has not slowed down our new case filings one bit, and has, in fact, increased our need for trained volunteers to assist the families through the virtual court process. Members of law enforcement will tell you they have seen increased incidences in stress, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and other things that contribute to child abuse and neglect.”

He concluded by saying, “I am so thankful and proud of the work that CASA volunteers are doing to assist children and families; however, we need more CASA volunteers to serve these special children in need.”

According to CASA’s Director, Beth Chapman, you do not need a degree or special credentials to become a CASA volunteer, just a caring heart and the willingness to go through a training program and pass a background check.

“We provide everyone with the training they need to provide the services we provide for the children we serve to advocate for their best interests,” Chapman said. “They will be amazed at how much they will learn and how much they can help change the life of a child.”

Last year, Shelby County had 1,023 reported cases of child abuse and neglect—and those were just the reported cases alone. It is predicted that at least twice that many cases go unreported.

CASA training classes begin Feb. 18 in Columbiana and are held for six weeks (skipping spring break week) on Thursdays from 5:30-9:30 p.m. with dinners provided. In-person, socially distanced classes will be available and are preferred with a virtual training option available.

CASA of Shelby County is funded in part by the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, a Shelby County Community Grant and a VOCA Grant. They are a member of the Alabama CASA Network and the National CASA Association.

For more information on how you can become a CASA volunteer, visit Casaofshelbycounty.org or call 205-980-4466.