Hundreds of CASA Volunteers Needed

AUSTIN (KXAN) — CASA of Travis County is in desperate need of volunteers.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County has seen a surge of new cases in the past month, and they need the public’s help and time.

In January, a judge appointed 72 additional children to CASA — 37 of those were in just one week.

These children end up in the court system because there is domestic violence or drug abuse inside their home, resulting in their placement to a foster home.

It’s up to volunteers to meet with the children, the foster families, the biological parents, teachers, and anyone else who is a part of this child’s life to determine what is in their best interest.

“I’m looking for stability, and I’m looking to see if my child is comfortable in their surroundings and they are getting the services they need,” said Tara Ates, CASA volunteer.

CASA volunteers then speak up for the children inside the courtroom.

The process can take a few months to more than a year to learn the child’s needs, and that means a commitment of about 20 hours a month for volunteers.

“A lot of what a CASA volunteer does can be done on their own time — talking to teachers over a lunch hour or going to visit the kids on the weekend or in the evenings. There are some things fixed, like court hearings, but you typically know about those three or four months in advance,” said Laura Wolf, CASA of Travis County executive director.

There will be an information session Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7p.m. at the Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church.

Overall, CASA needs about 300 additional volunteers because there are 700 children without a dedicated volunteer.

Anyone interested will also need to go through 39 hours of training. Head to the CASA website for more information.

The plea for CASA volunteers comes as a state agency reports Texas had 156 child deaths from abuse and neglect during Fiscal Year 2013. Figures released Tuesday by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services show that compares to 212 neglect-related child deaths in 2012.

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