Child abuse and neglect crosses every border and knows no boundary.
Court Appointed Special Advocates for children was first established in 1977 by a Superior Court Judge in Seattle, Wash., who wanted to ensure the well-being of abused or neglected children, served by volunteers to help advocate for individual children.
In Hopkins County, the CASA program was first organized in 1997 by court efforts of the Family Advocacy Center’s Board of Directors and local courts. CASA in Hopkins County is one of more than 20 programs offered in Kentucky.
The Family Advocacy Center recently welcomed new CASA volunteer coordinator Chandra Singer to the team. She has been working as a CASA worker for over a year.
“I went to school for medical transcription, and did that for most of my life,” said Singer. “When my husband took a job here in Madisonville over three years ago, I wanted to find other ways of being able to help children. One day, I was driving past the FAC and noticed a sign about CASA. So, I went home and looked it up, and then I came here and started working as a volunteer.”
When the position became available, program director Daphyne Maddox was looking for someone who was already familiar with CASA.
“Chandra was one of the volunteers who applied for the position,” said Maddox. “We were looking for someone who was already familiar with the CASA program, so we didn’t have to spend a whole lot on time training.”
Maddox said they received a national CASA grant with strict guidelines to adhere to and a chance for a second year funding.
“In order to have the second year funding, we have to meet our mark,” said Maddox. “A part of that is where Chandra has to recruit, screen and train at least eight volunteers. Those recruits would also have to be serve around 23 new children.”
Maddox said the youth advocacy grant targets school-aged children from 7 to 17.
Volunteers can be from any type of background, must pass a screening process, be at least 21 years of age and have at least 30 hours of training.
“There is a whole new component to everything,” said Maddox. “There is extra education for the volunteers. Right now, they already get 30 hours of training.”
Singer said she has been working on a new curriculum called “Fostering Futures,” which was newly developed by the National CASA Association.
“It is a two-part curriculum,” said Singer. “One would be ,where the volunteers would do some e-learning on their own, and then coming into the office for workshop, where I would be teaching them.”
The curriculum is designed to give volunteers a solid base of knowledge and skills to better help advocate on behalf of youth between the ages 14 to 18.
“CASA’s goal is to find a permanent home for these children as soon as possible,” said Maddox. “We don’t want to see these children linger in foster care. So, with this grant, we are making sure these children are getting all that they need, while they are in foster care or with a relative placement.”
Volunteers of CASA serve a variety of functions in the life of an abused or neglected child and do not need a degree or experience, just a heart and desire to give abused and neglected children a better way of life.
“We are in desperate need of volunteers,” said Maddox. “We currently only serve 25 percent of the children that come to us and it's unacceptable. We need more help. This is our motivation to get more people to help.”The Family Advocacy Center is located at 228 S. Main St., Madisonville. For more information about CASA Hopkins County, call (270) 825-1582 or visit http://www.facky.org/default.html.
SurfKY News Reporter
Photo by Amber Averitt
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