SAN ANGELO, Texas — The Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater West Texas is in desperate need of Court Appointed Special Advocates, or “CASA,” volunteers.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater West Texas is in desperate need of court appointed special advocates, or “CASA,” volunteers.
“CASA volunteers bring the biggest blessing to a child’s life. They become an advocate and a friend,” said Justin DeLoach, Chief Development Officer of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater West Texas.
CASA volunteers are members in the community who represent the best interests of abused or neglected children whose home is to be determined by a judge.
“They sometimes need an independent advocate to serve as their voice and their support,” explained DeLoach.
In 2019, 431 children were assigned to a CASA volunteer. Right now, 230 children need one.
Julie Holt became involved with the CASA program in 2018.
“I pulled up the application and thought I wouldn’t have time because I have kids of my own,” said Julie Holt.
Since then, she has represented 5 children.
“I filled out the application and it’s at the top of one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. You have fabulous support with the CASA case managers. You pick your own cases, so you’re able to pick any age,” explained Holt.
On average, CASA volunteers give 10 to 15 hours of their time to the children they advocate for.
“They go to school meetings, doctor’s appointments. They do fun stuff with the child and make sure they’re not just in a lost state,” added DeLoach.
According to Holt, it’s much easier than it seems to take on the task.
“When I initially filled out the application, I was worried about the time because I have a family of my own and a full-time job. It’s actually been the easiest process to maneuver through,” said Holt.
Volunteers walk alongside these children until they are placed in a permanent home, and develop strong relationships with them that can last a lifetime.
“Sometimes the case can be 4 months, half a year or two years. When they finally enter adulthood they may have learned some lessons from this volunteer that changes their life,” continued DeLoach.
Those interested in becoming a CASA volunteer must be 21 years of age and go through an interview and background check.
According to DeLoach, the process takes just about two weeks to complete and the center is looking for volunteers to begin the next training.
“We’re having a training in January 2020. That will be our next class for CASA training. It’s not very time consuming and takes place in the evenings,” said DeLoach.
The application and more information can be found at the Children’s Advocacy Center’s website here.
“You go in thinking you’re going to change a child’s life. Surprisingly and beautifully, they end up changing yours as well,” said Holt.