The Otoe County CASA program is looking for a few good volunteers.
CASAs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, work with children who are in the juvenile court system because of issues with abuse or neglect.
CASAs are appointed by a juvenile court judge, and their job is to advocate for the child’s best interests,
A CASA sees the child he or she is assigned to at least once a month, and the CASA also attends court hearings and team meetings on the child’s behalf.
A CASA must also verify that the child’s parent or parents are following the court’s instructions in terms of receiving counseling or other services, said Debbie Green, Otoe County CASA coordinator.
Right now, the Otoe County CASA program has 11 children who need a volunteer to advocate for them. The program currently has 5 volunteers who are working with children in the county, said Green.
Green said that in the past fiscal year, 27 children in Otoe County have been helped by 8 volunteers, according to Green.
“Studies have shown that kids who have a CASA spend less time in foster care,” said Green, “and they are half as likely to come back into the system.”
The CASA program started in Otoe County in September 2009 and became part of the Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership (SENCA) in September 2016, said Green.
Green will soon be traveling to Nemaha County to coordinate the work of CASA volunteers there. She said that any volunteers who join the organization here in Otoe County will work with Otoe County youth.
CASA volunteers should have about 5 to 6 hours a month to devote to the program, said Green.
The application process requires them to provide letters of reference and pass a background check before being interviewed.
CASA volunteers also need to go through 30 hours of training before being paired with a child, she added.
For more information on the Otoe County CASA program, contact Green at 402-713-5405 or send her an email at otoecasa@senca.org.