Kay County ranked #10 in Oklahoma in 2014 for the number of cases investigated for child abuse and/or neglect by DHS Child Welfare Services. There were 1,529 children in Kay and Noble Counties combined. Volunteers are needed to act as advocates for these abused and neglected children in our community. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Kay and Noble Counties is offering a free online “Flex-Training” Curriculum for individuals who are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer. The online training curriculum that begins on October 10th is done at your own pace over a five-week period. The weekly assignment takes around one hour, on-average, to complete. In addition to the online training done at your convenience, volunteer applicants will meet in-person with CASA staff once a week over those five weeks for additional training that will be scheduled depending on the convenience of those enrolled in the online training. The curriculum includes courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system, the special needs of abused and neglected children and more. Observation of actual courtroom cases in progress is included in the training. Volunteers must be 21 years of age, complete a volunteer application, and successfully complete a background check and a personal interview with CASA staff before beginning training. CASA welcomes volunteers from all cultures, professions, ethnic and educational backgrounds.
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 advocates make informed recommendations based on their independent investigation as to the child’s best interest. The advocate is charged with identifying the child’s needs and strengths and ensuring services, family visits and other court orders are completed. 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. “What keeps me coming back are the cases that end well, and the knowledge that I helped that process. I love seeing a child who may have come from a dysfunctional home, or a sad life, blossom into a child who feels safe and loved. It is always a happy day when I see that I have made a difference in a child’s life.” said Nancy Murphy, CASA volunteer and Advisory Council Member of the CASA Program in Kay and Noble Counties. Studies have shown that children who have been appointed a CASA volunteer receive more assistance and support than children without, and are more likely to be adopted or returned to their families and less likely to reenter the child welfare system.
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.