According to the Department of Human Services, there were 1,084 children who were victims of abuse and neglect in Kay and Noble Counties in 2016. Only 50 of these children were able to be provided with a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer to advocate for their best interests. Taking into consideration the 1,026 children in our community who were without an advocate in 2016, CASA of Kay and Noble Counties has an urgent need for more volunteer advocates and they’re teaming up with Eastern Heights Christian Church (EHCC) to help meet that need.
CASA is offering a training for EHCC congregation members to become Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers and the general public is encouraged to participate as well. The training is scheduled to begin on Sunday, March 19th from 5:30pm-8:00pm at Eastern Heights Christian Church located at 5100 Lake Road in Ponca City. Volunteer applicants will meet in-person with CASA staff once each week for five weeks, excluding Easter Sunday, for comprehensive training with light reading homework assigned in between training sessions. At the completion of the training, volunteers will attend a court observation and be sworn in as Court Appointed Special Advocates by the judge. It is then that they can begin advocating for abused and neglected children in our community.
When asked why Eastern Heights Christian Church decided to partner with CASA, Pastor Danny Cox said, “CASA has become part of our outreach strategy to reach out beyond the walls of the church and show compassion, love and the mercy of Jesus to children whom we would not normally have the ability to influence. Similar strategies of outreach are being developed for older generations who need the love of Jesus.”
Members of the community can positively impact the lives of abused and neglected children in our community by serving as Court Appointed Special Advocates. A CASA volunteer is a trained community member who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of a child, or family of children, in the court system. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life. CASA volunteers make informed recommendations based on their independent investigation as to the child’s best interest. Advocates act as a communications link in the maze of the child welfare system, ensuring the child’s voice is heard. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and do not require any specialized degrees or legal experience. They are simply people who care about children and their commitment to advocate for their best interests. They are dedicated individuals connected by one goal – being part of the solution to children of abuse and neglect.
To learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate or to complete on online volunteer application, visit www.KayNobleCASA.org or by calling Northern Oklahoma Youth Services CASA Program at 580-762-8341.