“In other words, when the judge in the case wants a CASA volunteer to advocate for a child or sibling group, we have been able to always meet that request,” Tucker said.
In 2011, 144 children were served by CASA of Parker County volunteers.
The need for more CASA volunteers increases as the number of children who are removed from their home increases.
In January 2012, Texas CASA requested CASA of Parker County include the CASA program in Palo Pinto County.
“In March of 2012, Palo Pinto CASA became a part of our organization, increasing our number of children in care to 257,” Tucker said. “By the end of 2012 the number of children served had increased to 273. This was a 47 percent increase in children served by our CASA volunteers in the two counties.”
So far in the first four months of 2013, CASA of Palo Pinto and Parker Counties are serving 264 children.
“Calculating a conservative 15 percent increase for 2013 this could put us at 304 children to be served by Palo Pinto and Parker County CASA volunteers by the end of the year,” Tucker added. “With another 15 percent increase in 2014 the number of children needing to be served by CASA would be 350.”
The leadership of the local CASA organization reached out to The Walton Family Foundation earlier this year with the request for funds to add volunteer supervisors to the staff.
CASA volunteers complete a 30-hour training course and observe courtroom proceedings before being sworn in by a local judge. Once they are sworn to the CASA volunteer role, the volunteer accepts a case that may consist of one child or a sibling group. Typically the CASA volunteer spends 15 hours per month on their case visiting with the child and talking to people who are relevant to the case, such as teachers, counselors, and foster parents.
“The success of the CASA program is defined by the difference each volunteer makes in the life of a child,” said Trisha Duke, volunteer recruiter/trainer for CASA of Palo Pinto and Parker Counties. “And obviously our volunteers here in Palo Pinto and Parker counties are getting something out of being a voice for abused and neglected children. We have a 90 percent retention rate for our CASA volunteers.”
For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer or how to donate to the local non-profit organization, contact Duke at 817-599-6224 or email@example.com.