New CASA director hopes to help local children

Published 5:48 pm Monday, June 17, 2019

When Hurricane Katrina forced Jennifer McCutchen’s family to relocate to Troup County, the future was uncertain. Now, she is excited to be helping local children as CASA of Troup County’s new executive director.

CASA advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system, and Troup County has been part of the program for 21 years. McCutchen became CASA of Troup County’s executive director in May, and since then, she has been working to improve community awareness of the organization, find more volunteers and let children in the court system know that someone cares.

“Our new campaign this year is ‘Change a Child’s Story,’ and that is really what we want to focus on is making a difference in the lives of the children that we serve,” McCutchen said. “With CASA, we are Court Appointed Special Advocates, and that volunteer that works with that child, works with them for their whole process. They are their child’s lifeline. They are their consistent person in the world that they know they can rely on and count on.”

As a former educator who taught in Troup and Merriweather counties, McCutchen said CASA has given her the opportunity to work with children in a new way, and she hopes to see more volunteers who share her passion for children at CASA.

“One of the things that they support is with our younger children is the child’s development,” McCutchen said. “Trauma is traumatic for children and being removed from a home can be a very traumatic and have a lasting impact on a child. So, they work with them on their developmental, emotional and behavioral problems that children can have.”

McCutchen said that her goal is to have a volunteer for every child that needs CASA in Troup County.

“With the infants and the really young children, it is just a really nurturing environment. They really nurture for that child,” McCutchen said. “They work through school age through high school to help them succeed in school. We have a great partnership with Troup County Schools, where we work with them to make sure that the child’s needs are met and have an open-door policy to talk with them about the needs of our kids that we serve.”

In addition to volunteers to work with children, McCutchen said that CASA needs volunteers to help sort clothes donations, organize charities and help around Christmas. CASA also needs monetary donations to support the program.

McCutchen said that she is extremely excited about CASA’s partnership with Comfort Cases, a group that provides children in foster care with their own personal bag of belongings. The bags include items like pajamas, a small blanket, a stuffed animal, a book and toiletry items.

“They have generously donated twice this year [for a total of] 100 backpacks so far, and these are really nice backpacks that are filled with blankets, pajamas, toys, coloring books and hygiene items for the kids,” McCutchen said. “It is their bag, and that’s something that they are really excited about. As children have been moved from home to home, sometimes they don’t necessarily feel like they have their own things, their own stuff, so this is theirs. They get very, very excited about that.”

McCutchen said that because there are more than 100 children in the care of CASA of Troup County, donations are still needed. Some of the items needed are suitcases, clothing and toiletry items.

Even as CASA of Troup County works to help local children, it is also taking advantage of the rock hiding trend that has swept through the community by hiding rocks throughout LaGrange and offering prizes for anyone who turns one into its office. McCutchen said that visit gives CASA the chance to share a little bit about what the organization does with people who might not hear about CASA of Troup County otherwise. 

To learn more about CASA of Troup County or how to volunteer, visit them on Facebook, Instagram, the website at or call (706) 845-8243. The next volunteer training session will take place on July 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 118 Ridley Avenue. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older. Potential volunteers can register for the training on the website or by phone.