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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: CASA to host informational meeting Saturday

When a child is removed from their home by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, a volunteer is there to help them and be a voice for them throughout their time in foster care. 

Those volunteers come out of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and provide quality court-based advocacy for abused and neglected children.

Volunteers start by getting to know everyone in that child’s life, including their parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers, doctors, attorneys, social workers and more.

They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.

Training and Engagement Specialist Matt Moncus said they are in desperate need for more volunteers.

CASA of Troup County will hold an information session and interest meeting on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. at Lagrange Memorial Library, located at 115 Alford Street.

“The volunteer will visit with them once a month or sometimes more and talk to their teacher, talk to the doctor and just basically keep track of what’s going on with that child,” Moncus said. “That volunteer can come back and do a report that goes to the judge every time their court hearings come up. We are the voice of that child.”

Moncus said that children can sometimes be moved multiple times but the volunteer will remain a constant for them. Volunteers stick with the child through the entire process until they are placed either back with their family or in a safe permanent home. CASA works in collaboration with key agencies, a guardian ad litem and other community resources to help the child.

“CASA ensures that dependency children have a voice in court,” Moncus said.

Moncus said you do not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer but must pass a background check, participate in a training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed. He said volunteers get individualized training.

“The biggest thing we focus on in the training is doing the CASA report that will go before a judge,” Moncus said. “The training also helps them with ice breakers, activities and the do’s and don’ts of being a volunteer. The highlight of the training is just making sure they know they are there to be there for the child.”

Moncus said the volunteer becomes more than just a volunteer for the program.

“We’re trying to start focusing on instead of just saying we need a volunteer but it’s also a reading buddy, a friendly voice, a friendly face and someone that is there for the child in their best interest,” Moncus said.

Anyone interested that cannot make the volunteer meeting on Saturday and would like to fill out an application online or needs more information on the program, go to casaoftroupcounty.org or call (706) 845-8243.