The October 2015 business of the month is CASA of Franklin County. CASA has been serving the Franklin County area since 1998. We sat down with CASA’s Executive Director, Mariah Hayes to learn a little more about what they do and how the community can be more involved.
CASA’s mission is simple but complicated, to provide a powerful and consistent voice in court for the innocent child victims of abuse and neglect. This is administered by the Advocate Coordinator, Tina Casillas, and the 20 advocates working with children in the juvenile court system. The CASA advocates for the child’s best interests in the courtroom based on the facts supplied by invested parties: children’s, doctors, teachers, family and others who play a role in the child’s life. Over the average span of 2 years, advocates work with children and their families and support groups to find the best balance between the life they left behind and their life going forward. “One thing we must remember, no matter how terrible the child’s environment was – it was normal to them. Part of our mission is to ensure that the child’s well-being is being met. Sometimes it is back with the family, and sometimes it is in a new environment.”
To become an advocate, you much commit to 40 hours of training and at least 18 months of child advocacy to the program. Most advocates are part to full time retirees from a wide range of backgrounds, though advocates can start the program at 21 years old. They are trained at the CASA office using nationally developed classes and partnering with local organizations to keep up to date with laws and standards, and meet the physical, social, and psychological needs of the children they are serving.
To learn more about becoming an advocate, volunteering, or helping with the efforts of CASA, you can call the office at 618-438-0608 or go online www.casafranklincounty.org.