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CASA training to begin Monday

CASA of Troup County is looking for volunteers who have a heart for children.

Children who have been abused or neglected need someone with them when they have their day in court, and CASA is looking for volunteers to fill that role. On Oct. 7, CASA will hold training for anyone who is interested in volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA.  Potential advocates should be 21, submit to a local background check and fingerprinting, and have no felony record. No prior training is needed, just the training offered by CASA. People of all backgrounds are welcome in the program. Volunteers only need to have a heart for children. CASA is a non-profit that works with, not for, juvenile court, said Nicole Spafford, Advocacy Coordinator for CASA of Troup County. 

“We help find safe, permanent homes and families for kids,” Spafford said.

The role of a volunteer is one of support and mentorship. Advocates work to help children find what they need, like educational and medical resources.     

Spafford said volunteers are matched with a child, who they will spend time getting to know them, so they can advocate for the child in court. Volunteers can choose to work with a family or a single child, and choose the distance to the child or family. 

“This program is unique in that advocates get to work one-on-one with the child,” Spafford said. “It’s the friendly support the children need.” 

This is the last CASA training of 2019, and it runs Monday and Thursday nights, with a free meal each night. It lasts four weeks, and includes eight chapters, one each session. Subjects include cultural competence and how to write an objective and factual court report. There are no tests or quizzes, just helpful discussion. Halfway through the training, advocates begin their 10 hours of court supervision. This can be in large blocks or 30 minutes at a time. 

“While observing a CASA representative will be available to answer any questions for the volunteer,” Spafford said. “Court proceedings are every 3 to 6 months, so trainees are not in court every week.”   

Volunteers have a new option for this upcoming round of training. For anyone unable to attend the evening trainings, CASA will provide individual training anytime Monday through Thursday. 

“Group training is still the ideal,” said Spafford, “since it is a good environment for asking questions. But the individual option allows people to be trained in their spare time.”  

Anyone interested in individual training can contact the office to set up a time for training.  

All potential advocates should call by Friday to get a brief orientation before attending training on Monday. Training is held at 118 Ridley Avenue in LaGrange.