WACO, TX — When a child enters foster care because their current living situation is unsafe, they have to enter court hearings. Usually, a judge will appoint a Court Appointed Special Advocate to represent the child in court. The Court Appointed Special Advocate digs deep in the child's life and help when making decisions for their future and finding a permanent home.
Carol Dugat has volunteered with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program for 9 months and has helped in two cases so far. Her urge to help came from sitting in church one day.
"Just kind of had this emotional experience that I knew I was supposed to work with CASA," Dugat said.
She didn't know exactly what a CASA volunteer was at first but when she sat down to learn more she knew she had to do something to help.
"They act as an investigator sort of some glue in the case they works with the child the family other professionals in the case>and ultimately make reports to the judge in court as to the recommendations for those children," Executive Director of CASA McLennan County, Anna Futral said.
CASA volunteers spend time with the child, it could even mean going to a school recital or party. Dugat had the chance to visit one of her children at a their school Christmas party.
"All the other kids were having their parents come in and when I came in and he saw me and he just ran up and hugged me and I knew I was making a difference for that little boy," Dugat said.
CASA of McLennan County has 80 volunteers and are currently serving 156 children. There are over 700 kids in foster care in McLennan County. CASA says they need around two to three hundred more volunteers to serve all 700 kids.
"The thought of them not having someone to advocate for them if they were in a difficult position breaks my heart and so i think its very important to have a child represent them," Dugat said.
If you are looking to become a CASA volunteer, the volunteer must be 21 or older and there will be a screening and background check requirements that must be passed.
You have to successfully completed initial training provided by your local CASA organization. Lastly you have to be able to make a 12-18 month commitment to a case. and be able to keep information confidential and work within established program guidelines. if you are interested in signing up visit our website for a link on more information.
For more information about becoming a CASA vounteer visit their website.