As Press staff writer Sue Guinn Legg reported earlier this month, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Tennessee has expanded its services to the Circuit Courts of Washington, Unicoi, Carter and Johnson counties.
For more than two decades, the program has assisted in the investigation of child abuse and neglect cases for the juvenile courts of Johnson City and Washington, Unicoi and Greene counties. It will now lend a hand to Circuit Court judges Tom Seeley and Jean Stanley with cases of child abuse and neglect that arise from divorce and custody proceedings.
That means CASA needs more volunteers to help it carry out its very important mission. CASA volunteers are appointed by local judges to help them determine the best outcome for the child.
More than 3 million children a year are reported abused or neglected in the United States. These are good children who, through no fault of their own, often become trapped in an already burdened judicial system that is swamped by a heavy caseload.
The mission of CASA volunteers is to see that every child is placed in a safe and stable home. It is a very important task, and one that well-trained CASA volunteers have been performing locally since 1985.
It’s because of the work they do that many children have gone from abuse and neglect to safe and nurturing homes. As we’ve said in this space many times before, case workers from the state Department of Children’s Services are often so buried under cases that they find themselves unable to devote the kind of time they would like to the children they serve.
CASA is a cost-effective approach to dealing with children who may be at risk. The organization would like to do more, but it needs help from you to do so. CASA is looking for community leaders to serve as members of its board of directors. It also needs more volunteers to help act as case workers.
The job of CASA volunteers is to investigate the child’s home environment and talk to neighbors and school officials whenever possible. And remember, these CASA volunteers are ordinary people like you from a variety of backgrounds.
Sadly, only one third of the children nationally who need a caring CASA advocate have one. You can change that.
For more information on how to help, call CASA at 461-3500 or visit www.casanetn.org.