On Feb. 11, the Honorable Judge Jennifer Dent swore in two community citizens as CASA Volunteer Advocates – Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children.
Family and friends gathered in the Greenbrier County Courthouse to watch the volunteers take an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of the child; Brenda Smith, who retired after 15 years from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Greenbrier County and Stephanie Moore who works with children at Davis Stuart and also serves on the Board for Greenbrier County Little League.
CASA of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit is excited to have Brenda and Stephanie join our team of dedicated citizens who are passionate about children in our community. “During the 30 hour training I had the chance to see both Brenda and Stephanie’s level of compassion and commitment to helping their community most vulnerable victims,” states Candie Benedict, Volunteer Recruiter.
The newly appointed CASA volunteers join 17 other dedicated community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the Eleventh Judicial Court system. As members of the court, they ensure that the children’s needs are recognized and best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.
CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child regularly and are authorized to interview the people in the child’s life (such as medical professionals, social workers, attorneys, teachers, etc) to gather information and report their findings to the judge. CASA Volunteer Advocates are the child’s voice in court, they make their wishes known and will also makes recommendations based on the child’s best interest.
“Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed so the child is placed in a safe, permanent home,” said Jenny Castle, executive director of the CASA of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, WV, Inc. “These advocates are often the only trained consistent adult presence in the child’s life throughout this difficult period.”
With more than 100 children waiting for a CASA volunteer, many more advocates are still needed. There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 30 hours of training.
The next advocate training session for Greenbrier and Pocahontas County begins in April. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact Candie Benedict at email@example.com or call 304-645-5437.
CASA of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, WV, Inc. is a member of the National CASA Association, a network of more than 900 CASA programs serving children in 49 states and Washington DC. For more information about national CASA please visit casaadvocates.org.