Seven local people recently completed training and were sworn-in to become volunteer CASA advocates for children in foster care. The Honorable Judge Lauri Blake of the 336th District Court administered the oath to the new volunteers. New child advocates include Dawnita Williams, Shonda Magness, Beverly Royse, Byron Royse, Heather Smith, Ashley Spencer and Marilyn Bower-Pegues.
Because of the pandemic, this training class was entirely on-line including the swearing in ceremony, which Judge Blake conducted via Zoom. Each volunteer was quickly assigned a case to work soon after taking their oaths.
“We excited to welcome these people to our team and even more excited to report that we are very close to having an advocate for every child in foster care,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program.
In the year ending August 31, 2020, CASA served 119 children, which was the second most number of children in one year in the agency’s 27 year history. That same fiscal year was the busiest ever in terms of the numbers of cases worked and the number of new children coming into foster care.
All volunteers completed an intensive training class which prepares them to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. The district judge appoints CASA volunteers to serve as the Guardian ad Litem for each child who has been placed in the state’s custody. In that role, CASA advocates investigate the child’s situation, prepare written reports to the court and advocate for the child’s best interest in court hearings and other settings. CASA also advocates and monitors to ensure that all educational, medical, mental health and other needs are met.
CASA is one program of several programs for abused and neglected children that are operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center. The next CASA training class is set to start in early 2021. For more information call (903) 583-4339 or click here.