CASA of Chautauqua announces fall volunteer training

MAYVILLE — Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Chautauqua County would like to announce its fall volunteer training to be held each Tuesday from September 3rd through October 22nd from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Training will be held in the Chautauqua County Emergency Services Conference Room at 2 Academy Street in Mayville. Those wishing to attend training should call CASA at 716-753-4123 to enroll.

Each year in Chautauqua County, hundreds of children are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. Many of them are removed from their homes and placed in foster care or residential facilities. These children are brought before a Family Court Judge to decide on matters involving custody, permanency and more. CASA volunteers are instrumental during this crucial time. The CASA volunteer ensures these underserved children are not looked over in the overburdened child legal and welfare systems. They make sure the child’s best interests are a priority and all services are being met. Oftentimes, the CASA volunteer is the one stable adult presence in that foster child’s life.

In 2018, the 27 volunteers at CASA of Chautauqua County advocated for the needs of 62 abused and neglected children. However, that number is only half of the foster children that would benefit from having a CASA volunteer by their side. Studies show that foster children who have experienced a CASA volunteer are more likely to find permanency, more likely to receive the quality educational services needed and less likely to fall victim to teen pregnancy, among countless other positive outcomes.

CASA of Chautauqua County is in need of more volunteers to assist in advocating for these children. Volunteers are everyday people and from all walks of life that possess a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. They have one common denominator…a passion for changing a child’s story for the better. Volunteers are appointed by a Judge to provide a voice for the best interests of a child in court and to offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They help to assure the Judge has a better understanding of the other parties in that child’s life such as foster parents, teachers, physicians, attorneys, social workers and others.

CASA volunteers must be 21 years of age and commit to about 8-10 hours a month on their advocacy. The process to become a CASA volunteer includes 30 hours of classroom instruction on topics including CASA roles and responsibilities, bonding and attachment, child abuse and neglect, cultural issues, domestic violence, communication, conflict resolution and more. Candidates must pass a criminal background clearance which includes a Criminal History Record search, State Criminal Record search and National Sex Offender Registry search. Volunteers are asked to advocate for their case until permanency occurs, which is about one year.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities please call Kathy Park, executive director at 716-753-4123, Laurie Winkler, case advocate supervisor at 716-753-4132 or visit our website at www.chautauquacasa.com.

If you are unable to become a CASA volunteer but would like to support the mission of CASA, a tax-deductible donation can me made online at Chautauquacasa.com or by sending a check to CASA of Chautauqua Co., Inc. at 2 Academy Street, Suite 5, Mayville, NY 14757. CASA of Chautauqua County is a 501 (c) charitable nonprofit organization and a United Way Community Partner.

About CASA of Chautauqua

The mission of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Chautauqua County is to provide an independent voice in court, advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the pursuit of finding safe and permanent homes. CASA of Chautauqua County, Inc. relies on highly trained volunteers who are appointed by a Chautauqua County Family Court Judge to advocate for children in court. These volunteers work with relevant agencies and parties in order to advocate for the best interest of the child. With the information provided by the CASA volunteer, Family Court Judges are better able to make informed decisions as to what is best for the child.

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