HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) – CASA of South Central Nebraska’s mission is to advocate for kids and individuals who have been taken from abusive homes and it is unable to do that without the help of volunteers.
CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, runs entirely on volunteers who get assigned to a child or “case” and become the voice for that child, standing by his or her side throughout the entire process in dealing with the judicial system, doctors, therapists, foster homes and even finding a new home. Cases can last anywhere from six months to a couple years and require about 10-12 hours per month on the volunteer’s end.
”It is absolutely vital,” RuAnn Root, the Executive Director of CASA, said of having volunteers. “We cannot express enough.”
Volunteers become even more important once school resumes because CASA sees more calls to the helpline reporting abuse than during the summer. That does not mean more cases are popping up, it means more are being reported.
A child experiencing abuse or neglect during the summer may only be around his or her family, whereas when school picks up, that child is around friends, teachers and other individuals who may be able to notice warning signs or signs of abuse or neglect and report it.
Last year CASA served 132 individuals and had 25 on the wait-list which means there is always work to be done. Root said she could take 10 volunteers and put them to work immediately. CASA is especially looking for male volunteers. Rood said having a male role model for young men can be crucial to their success down the road and breaking out of a toxic lifestyle or environment.
“We make sure that the judge, the case workers, the therapists, the doctors, the teachers, anybody that is in the life of this child really knows what this child needs so we can reduce trauma,” Root said. “Hopefully break the cycle of child abuse and make this family happy and healthy and hopefully they can get out of the system a better family.”
Volunteers must be at least 21-years-old and complete 30 hours of training, a background check and additional training once on board. The individuals CASA serves range from birth to 19 years old and the organization serves Adams, Clay, Webster, Nuckolls and Fillmore counties.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call (402) 463-1030 or visit CASA’s website.
Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.