Representatives of the county’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) agency announced two crucial upcoming events.
CASA volunteer training begins Monday. It will be conducted three evenings a week for an estimated three weeks. Volunteers learn about everything from the basics of child development and bonding to the dynamics of families with substance abuse problems and family violence — and what state and federal law require when children are involved in the child welfare system.
Once trained, CASA volunteers are independent and objective people assigned to check into what’s going on with the child and the family; and to talk to family members, teachers, law enforcement, caseworkers, therapists and others who have information pertinent to that child and family.
CASA volunteers monitor how the child is doing in foster care, in school, medically, emotionally, etc. They monitor how the parents are doing in making changes that could make it possible to safely return the children to their care, and they also report what they find back to District Judge Janelle Haverkamp, who is called to make decisions that affect the child’s future, often with only minutes to obtain information to assist as she makes these decisions.
CASA Executive Director Vicki Robertson said the agency is currently in touch with seven children who do not have a CASA advocate, and even more children enter the “system” every week.
“For some months now, we’ve been just barely able to keep up with the need for additional volunteers,” Robertson said in a release. “We are pushing hard to keep from turning children away.”
A second volunteer training session is tentatively scheduled for early March. And CASA representatives are also selling tickets for 2013’s “Justice is Served” dinner, set for Friday, Feb. 8, at Santa Fe Depot on California Street in Gainesville.
This year’s dinner will be a Mardi Gras-themed party, since it is being held shortly before Fat Tuesday. Dinner tickets are $40 per person, and the ticket covers appetizers, dinner and libations as well as jazz music provided by the North Central Texas College Jazz Band.
For information about volunteer training or the upcoming dinner, call 665-2244.