The Franklin/Pittsylvania County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is recruiting volunteers to serve as advocates for children in the region.

CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, educational backgrounds and professional careers. These trained community volunteers are appointed by a judge to speak up for children who are involved in judicial proceedings related to abuse, neglect or children in need of supervision or services. CASA programs work to promote safe, permanent outcomes for the children they serve.

The role of a CASA is child advocacy. CASAs work alongside a child’s attorney, monitor the case for compliance with the court’s orders, and report their findings back to the court. The court reports include: case and family history, current family conditions, concerns and recommendations to ensure children remain safe and have permanent homes.

Individuals who are interesting in becoming a CASA volunteer must be 21 years of age, possess mature judgment, and have the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Applicants must be able to interact with people, demonstrate objectivity and show attention to detail. Individuals who have a sincere concern for the well-being of children are sought.

Volunteers must participate in training and have background and reference checks conducted. Individuals accepted into the training will participate in 40 hours of curriculum related to their volunteer duties and two additional hours of courtroom observation. After being sworn-in, new volunteers are mentored by an experienced CASA volunteer for their first two cases. All CASA volunteers are asked to make an annual pledge of service, be willing to commit to 5-10 hours a month, and be prepared to testify at court for hearings.

While CASA volunteers have diverse life experiences, they all share the desire to make a positive difference in the life of a child.

“Being a CASA is not like being a big brother or sister, or even a mentor,” said Joyce Moran, executive officer of the Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center in Rocky Mount. “It encompasses an ability to recognize need, analyze resources and communicate options and opportunities into a complex system response on behalf of the child.”

Training for the spring session will be held virtually this fall and will begin Oct. 19. For more information on CASA and all ofSouthern Virginia Child Advocacy Center service programs, refer to www.southernvacac.org. Call (540) 484-5566 for more information.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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