Gainesville Daily Register

February 7, 2013

CASA again faces prospect of turning away children

Special to the Register

Gainesville — In recent months, CASA of North Texas, a local nonprofit agency responsible for advocacy for abused and neglected children has made repeated appeals for individuals to step up to become advocates for abused and neglected children within the child welfare system.  In this time, 12 people have trained and been sworn in to look out for the welfare of Cooke County’s most vulnerable children.

“We’ve been so thankful for the response to our requests”, said Vicki Robertson, CASA’s Director.  “We hoped that we’d be able to meet all of the needs by this time.  Sadly, the number of children coming into protective custody (foster care) has risen more quickly than the number of volunteers we have to assign to the children.  Today, there are 14 children who need a CASA volunteer and don’t have one.  There are new children coming into the system every week, sometimes daily.” said Robertson.

“We’ve always been able to give CASA advocacy to 100% of our children who need it” said Robertson.  “Very soon, I’m going to have to have a conversation with our Judge and ask her to quit assigning cases to us.  That’s something I really hope I don’t have to do.  How do you decide which child should have a CASA Advocate and which one shouldn’t?  Would you pick the child who was just released from the hospital because she was beaten by Mom’s boyfriend, the six year old who’s seen too much domestic violence and drug abuse on the part of his parents and doesn’t think he can trust anyone or the 3 year old twins found in the middle of Grand Avenue at 3 a.m. while the parents were partying and unaware they were in the street?”  For CASA, this is personal. “We really don’t want to let those children down and I’m asking for people to step up and help us be ‘there’ for every child who needs a CASA Advocate.”

To become a CASA volunteer, one must be over 21, have clear CPS and criminal histories and have between 10-15 hours per month to dedicate to their case.  Some CASA volunteers serve individually, other volunteers pair together to serve cases with a close friend, spouse or even a sibling.

CASA of North Texas will commence its’ next new volunteer training in early March.  If you, or someone you know, are interested in helping out County’s neglected and abused children by getting involved with CASA, please the CASA office at (940) 665-2244 or e-mail the office at sbutler@casant.org.  Information is available on the website www.becomeacasa.org.    CASA staff will be happy to answer any questions.