Staff Photo — Sherry Bailey, CASA Executive Director Pike and Clark Counties
MURFRESBORO — CASA (Court Appointed Special advocates for Children in foster care) is seeking local residents to help play a role in their services.
“We recruit community volunteers to become and advocate for children in foster care,” said Sherry Bailey, Executive Director of CASA of Clark and Pike Counties.
She said that volunteers would be required to go through some 30 hours of pre-service training “so they will know how to go out and work with the children, court systems and Department of Human Services (DHS).”
Advocates make sure children are going through the foster care process appropriately and get the services they need, also to help make sure they return to a family member or adopted by a family.
“They are looking out for the rights of the children,” said Bailey. “Advocating for a child gives that child a voice — and a chance for a better life.”
Services the advocates make sure the child is receiving can include counseling, disability rehabilitation, school tutoring, or necessary medical attention.
“Whatever the child may need, the volunteer advocates for on their behalf,” Bailey summarized. “And, because we want the child to be reunified with their parents as much as possible, we work with the parents as well as DHS in order to get the children back at home. But, at the end of the day, if that doesn’t happen we advocate for what is best for the child.”
Advocation requires no transportation of children.
Program literature states that children in foster care are half as likely to remain in the child welfare system and find a permanent home, and that the overburdened system cannot meet all the needs of its wards, despite being well-intentioned and committed people.
Bailey said the program was badly needing volunteers in the area and was struggling to find them.
“It’s a great program,” Bailey said. “If we can get it off the ground [in Pike County] it will be helpful, because Pike County has a lot of kids in foster care that we simply cannot serve [due to a lack of volunteers]. We have a good solid program in Clark County with advocates, and some have served here [in Pike County] but it is a little bit different when they don’t live in that county to get over here and do they things they need to do.”
For more information, Bailey can be contacted at (870) 230-1450 or by e-mailing email@example.com. Additionally, more information can be found at www.clarkcasa.org.