Children who have experienced traumatizing family situations and placed into foster care will gain a new voice when 17 new Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers will be sworn in at a ceremony at the Eighth Judicial District Family Court on Monday, May 16 at noon, at Family Court, Courtroom 9, 601 N. Pecos Road. The volunteers successfully completed specialized training to give them the tools they need to serve as an effective voice for children and to give them a say on what happens with their life.
There are currently 357 CASA volunteers serving as a voice for foster children in our community. Many more volunteers are needed to advocate for the nearly 3,500 children receiving services under supervision of Family Court. Last year, more than 900 children had a CASA volunteer to help them navigate through the system, and deal with school challenges and home life. The goal is to get a volunteer to be a voice for every foster child.
“CASA volunteers play a very important role to help ensure that children don’t get lost in the system,” said Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan, who will administer the oath to the CASA volunteers. “When Children have a CASA, they have a voice. When they have a voice, they have hope. When they have hope, they have a future. These kids deserve everything we want for our own kids. So, I urge those who are able, to step forward and volunteer to be a voice for children. The relationship you establish with a child will last a lifetime.”
The CASA program recruits, screens, trains and supports volunteers to represent the best interests of hundreds of foster children annually. The advocates represent the children in school, family team meetings, and in court. Volunteering for the program involves a two-year commitment and a willingness to spend quality time with the children to advocate for them. In 1980, Judge John Mendoza led the creation of the Clark County CASA Program. The CASA mission continues to be fully supported by Family Court judges.
“The court has committed substantial resources to improve the outcomes for abuse and neglect cases, and to give the children what they need to be able to be in a safe and permanent home. We have moved to a one-judge one-family policy to give judges more time with cases and help them to get to know the kids and their needs.” said Presiding Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin. “CASA volunteers play a crucial role in achieving the best possible outcomes by conveying the children’s point of view.”
For those interested in volunteering with CASA, monthly orientations are held on the third Wednesday of each month to provide more information about the program. Upcoming orientations will be held at the Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Pkwy. For more information about the program please call 702-455-4306, visit www.casalasvegas.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/CASALasVegas.