Kentucky Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) announced the launch of a statewide campaign aimed at attracting volunteers to close the gap between abused and neglected children in need of an advocate to represent their best interests with the goal of securing a safe, permanent home. It is estimated that more than 21,000 vulnerable children in Kentucky could benefit from a CASA volunteer each year as they seek a permanent solution while navigating the juvenile court system.
“We need more people in our community to be for the child and help serve the hundreds of children In Calloway and Marshall counties who need an advocate,” said Angelia Boyd, executive director of the CASA by the Lakes. “CASA Volunteers make a lasting difference in the lives of the children they serve, making CASA volunteering one of the most rewarding and meaningful journeys one can take as a volunteer.”
Across Kentucky, 831 CASA volunteers currently serve 2,831 children. After extensive training and with support from the local CASA program, the CASA volunteer is appointed by the juvenile court and has the authority to talk to all people on behalf of the child to submit a comprehensive, objective report to the court making best interest recommendations. This includes area volunteers at CASA by the Lakes, which serves Calloway County at 1003 Poplar St. in Murray and Marshall County at Suite 210 in the courthouse in Benton. To reach 21,000 additional children, the number of volunteers in the state will need to grow exponentially – a goal Kentucky CASA understands will take time.
“There were more than 500 cases of abuse and neglect in Calloway and Marshall counties last year, and we were able to serve 96 of those,” Boyd said. “We have a long way to go to be able to give a voice to each child going through the court system, but that’s our goal. We’ve doubled our staff in the last two years to three full time positions and increased the number of volunteers from 21 last year to 35 this year. The need to help abused and neglected children is not only great, but urgent. We hope that as more people learn about this opportunity, they will be inspired to stand up and be for Kentucky’s most vulnerable.
“Just as CASA’s national mantra is, ‘I am for the child,’ our campaign asks the people of Kentucky to be for the child,” Boyd added.
Messaging for the Be For The Child Volunteer Recruitment Campaign will be integrated and highlighted in various CASA statewide communications throughout the year. The campaign includes a website: BeForTheChildKY.org and will highlight seven distinct volunteers throughout the state through social media advertising. These special highlighted volunteers include:
Terri Coke, CASA Volunteer, Daviess County
Suzanne Churchwell, CASA Volunteer, McCracken County
Richard Vietez, CASA Volunteer, McCracken County
Pam Kaur, CASA Volunteer, Fayette County
Ben Haydon, CASA Volunteer, Fayette County
Eileen Donahue, CASA Volunteer, Boone County
Tom Pike, CASA Volunteer, Oldham County
Kerri Scisney, CASA Volunteer, Hopkins County
“I was an abused child growing up, and I remember wishing that somebody would either rescue me or just tell me that things would eventually by OK,” said CASA volunteer Pam Kaur. “The thought of being a pillar of support to these innocent children truly appealed to me, for through my experiences I have learned that having someone in your corner can truly be life-changing.”
CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life and exhibit intelligence, heart and character. No prior experience is expected or necessary to become a volunteer. All the tools needed to be a successful advocate will be provided in the CASA volunteer training program.
“If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, CASA by the Lakes will provide you the training and the tools necessary,” Boyd said. “By being for the child during a traumatic time in his or her life, a CASA can make a positive impact on the child both now and in the future – which in turn helps our community prosper.”
At BeForTheChildKY.org visitors can find out more about the experience of volunteering as a CASA and sign up to be a volunteer. Those interested in volunteering for CASA by the Lakes may call 270-761-0164. For more information on Kentucky CASA, visit: https://www.kentuckycasanetwork.org/.