Eighteen soon-to-be Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers, including three naturalized citizens, a veteran, a realtor, attorneys, former foster youth, former foster parents and adoptive parents will take a pledge May 13 at noon at Family Court, Courtroom 9, 601 N. Pecos Road to speak on behalf of kids who have been abused and neglected. They have gone through a CASA training program that gives them the tools they need to serve as a CASA.

There is a big need for CASA volunteers in Clark County, to speak up for the approximately 3,200 children in the community who are receiving services under supervision of Family Court. For those interested in volunteering with the CASA program. Monthly orientations are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Pkwy. and  every second and fourth Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Child Haven, 701 N. Pecos Rd.  The next CASA Orientations are on May 11 at 11:30 a.m. at Child Haven, and May 15 at 6 p.m. at the Government Center.

“When you give abused and neglected kids a CASA, you give them a voice. When you give them a voice, you give them hope. When you give them hope, you give them a future,” said Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan, who will administer the oath to the CASA volunteers. “CASA’s are the ears and the eyes for the court. They  provide a voice and offer stability for kids who are in foster care and don’t otherwise have a lot of stability in their lives.”

The CASA program recruits, screens, trains and supports volunteers to represent the best interests of hundreds of foster children annually. The volunteers speak on behalf of children in foster care who have endured abuse and neglect. They give input 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.

There are around 341 CASA volunteers serving as a voice for children under the supervision of the Family Court CASA Program. Many more volunteers are needed to advocate for the remainder of the children in care. Last year, nearly one thousand children had a CASA volunteer to help them navigate through the system, deal with school challenges and handle home life.

“We are truly grateful to CASA’s who speak for children who are unable to speak for themselves,” said Presiding Family Court Judge Bryce Duckworth. “I encourage anyone who is looking to do something truly fulfilling to consider volunteering as a CASA.”