Each year through no fault of their own, thousands of Louisiana’s children enter into complex social welfare and juvenile court proceedings. They are the victims of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. Helpless and scared, they belong to no one as they sit silently waiting for the courts to decide their futures.
According to Jack Duty, executive director of CASA if Central Louisiana, in December there were 15 children without advocates in CASA’s service area, which includes Natchitoches, Red River and Sabine Parishes.
“Becoming a CASA volunteer is an investment of time, energy and heart,” he said. “But many volunteers have told me they get just as much out of it themselves as the child they’re advocating for. They find it rewarding and eellike they’re helping to change that child’s situation.”
CASA if Central Louisiana will hold an Advocate Training Class Thursday, Feb. 15 from 5:30-8:30 pm at its office, located at 1200 Keyser Avenue, Suite B.
Aggie Babers worked as a CASA advocate in the Sabine Parish area from 2009-2015. Her goal was always to offer support and implement self esteem in the children she dealt with.
“As an advocate, you become a friend to them and help motivate them to become all they can be,” she said. “You help them focus, not on their temporary placement, but on their future achievements. I have a longing inside me to be engaged in the lives of our youth and I saw the need for CASA advocates, so I became one. I encourage anyone who has the time to get involved to become an advocate as well.”
CASA’s Advocate Training Class marks the beginning of the 30-hour course, which will be held over several weeks. There will be study material sent home, but volunteers will be asked to attend four more classes at the office. These classes will be scheduled on a weekly basis. At the end, there will be a 2-hour courtroom observation before volunteers are officially sworn in as advocates.
Become a CASA Advocate and help CASA of Central Louisiana ensure that every foster child has a caring competent volunteer in all judicial proceedings. If you are at least 21 years of age, respect the inherent rights of children to grow up with dignity in a safe environment, and would like to advocate for a child’s best interests in court, become a CASA Advocate today! For more information call (318) 238-2446.