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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Children need CASA advocates

  • “This is not your typical volunteer work,” said Cara Koenig, volunteer coordinator with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in the 10th Judicial District, which serves Marion, Ralls and Monroe counties.


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  • “This is not your typical volunteer work,” said Cara Koenig, volunteer coordinator with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in the 10th Judicial District, which serves Marion, Ralls and Monroe counties.
    A CASA volunteer’s main duty is representing the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse, she said.
    “We have 17 volunteers and need to recruit 18 more, Koenig said. “Right now we are only able to serve about a third of the children in foster care, so we definitely need more volunteers.”
    CASA volunteers appear in juvenile court on behalf of the child, according to Koenig. They serve an average of 10 hours a month with the child. “They meet with the parents the child was removed from. They meet with the foster parents, and they meet with the child.
    “They meet with teachers and counselors and basically, they get to know everybody involved in that child’s life. They meet grandparents, if they are involved. They do not transport the children anywhere. They never take them to their home.
    “They monitor the parents’ progress and report to the judge how the parents are doing. They get several months’ advance notice of a court hearing.
    “We want volunteers of all races, because we want them to represent the communities we live in and the children we serve,” Koenig said.
    Applications are available at the CASA office at Douglass Community Services, 711 Grand Ave., from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or may be mailed. They also are on the Website, www.nemocasa.org.
    Applicants must be age 21 or older, and there is no maximum age limit. They must pass a criminal background check.
    Class to begin Jan. 10
    CASA volunteers have a total of 30 hours of training. A new weekly training class will begin on Monday, Jan. 10, at DCS on Grand Avenue. It will meet from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each Monday for 10 weeks.
    “We plan another training class in March and we hope that between the two classes, we will be able to reach our grand goal in terms of volunteers,” Koenig said.
    After completing training, advocates are sworn in by a judge. How long do they serve? “They are sworn in forever, but we ask for at least a year commitment, because it can take that long or longer for a foster case,” Koenig said. If someone cannot serve that long, they are replaced, she added. “We ask for a year commitment, understanding that life happens.”
    The length of service is not the most important thing, she said. “What is important is that they have an advocate. They have guardians and attorneys, but the attorneys have huge case loads. The beauty of CASA is the CASA (volunteer) has only this case or only a couple. They serve however many children are in the family.”
    Page 2 of 2 - For more information, contact Koenig at (573) 221-3892, Ext. 280.
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