CASA seeking volunteers to aid 30 area children

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 16, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Tennessee is in need of volunteers for more than 30 abused and neglected children with placement hearings pending in local juvenile courts. An orientation session for the unique volunteer position is scheduled for Jan. 28.CASA volunteers are appointed by Juvenile Court judges to interview and assess the homes, circumstances and placement options available to children who come under their jurisdictions as victims of neglect or abuse. The volunteers play a key role in helping the judges ensure the children are placed in safe, permanent home settings and that their needs are being met by all children’s services and resources available to them. Their appointments are typically reserved for the court’s most difficult cases.Training begins with an informational session to introduce potential volunteers to everything a volunteer advocacy appointment entails.Those who feel the role a volunteer child advocate is something they wish to pursue go on to complete 30 hours of specialized training in which the CASA staff attempts to prepare them for the many scenarios they may encounter, including hours spent shadowing trained volunteers and observing Juvenile Court proceedings.CASA volunteers are typically assigned to assist one child through the court process and will follow up on that child’s progress for about a year. Last year, CASA volunteers assisted approximately 400 children assigned to them by the Juvenile Courts of Johnson City and Washington, Unicoi and Greene counties. Also last year, there were approximately 600 abused and neglected children with placement hearings pending in the four local courts. Because many abused and neglected children spend much of their childhood in foster homes, CASA also provides a Fostering Futures program that trains adult mentors to help teens in foster homes make a successful transition to adulthood, independent living, college and employment without the support of a traditional family.Background and reference checks are required for all CASA volunteers.The orientation session will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce building at 603 E. Market St. in Johnson City.More information about the CASA programs may be obtained online at www.casanetn.org or by calling Program Coordinators Lauren Pealor or Emily Tester at 461-3500To help recruit and train more CASA volunteers, young models are needed for CASA’s fifth annual American Girl Fashion Show coming up March 22 at Holiday Inn.Model auditions will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Jonesborough Visitors Center and Jan. 23 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Summit Leadership Foundation offices located next door to Wallabies at 3104 Hanover Road.This benefit showcases historical and contemporary clothing and accessories for girls and the American Girl dolls they love. The show is open to all models sizes 6X-12 who are willing to raise $100 in donations for the CASA program. Ninety young models with the poise and confidence needed to walk a runway in front of a crowd of approximately 300 guests are needed.In addition to historical and contemporary Just Like You fashions in the styles worn by the American Girl doll characters, the fashion show features lively commentary, music, refreshments, a silent auction and door prizes. Tickets are $25. Sponsorships and vendor slots are also available. All donations and proceeds from the show will help local children who have been abused or neglected children whose futures depend on decisions made by local courts with the assistance of CASA volunteers.Model application forms, tickets and more information about the benefit are available at www.casanetn.org or may be obtained by calling CASA’s Executive Director Leslie Dalton at 461-3500.The East Tennessee Christian Home & Academy for local girls in need has kicked off its 5th annual Shoe Drive and is recruiting area churches, youth groups and civic organizations to help.Now through March 31, the Elizabethton residential home and school will be gathering top quality used shoes to pass along to people in need. ETCHA will receive a monetary donation for every pound of shoes collected. More information about the shoe drive and how to participate may be obtained by calling ETCHA at 542-4423.If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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