With so many children stuck in the court system, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), is now in Knox County with the goal of providing help.
“With the opioid crisis, we have so many more children involved in the court system than we have had in the past…We work toward what is in the best interest of the child,” said Christina Bentley, executive director. “We train and support volunteers to act as special advocates to children in the court system,” including children who have been abused and neglected.
Once assigned to a child, the CASA advocate then researches the child’s abuse, reviews documents, conducts interviews and reports to the court what they believe is in the child’s best interest in terms of services, placement, visitation, etc.
“Cases in the family court system can go on for years. One thing we do know, nationally, is when children are assigned an advocate, it shortens the length of their case. The time it takes from when they enter the family court system until that case is closed…it shortens the case considerably and that’s always a good thing,” continued Bentley.
Before the organization can provide help to our children, they need the community’s help in the form of volunteers. Who should volunteer with CASA?
According to Bentley, volunteers will have an initial 30-hour training, will have to pass several background checks, must meet with their assigned child at least once every 30 days, be able to perform research and conduct interviews with family members, teachers, social workers, etc.
“Really, anybody who is willing to commit to a child over the course of his or her entire case is perfect,” continued Bentley. “That right now is probably what we need more than anything. We need people to really think about committing to being a volunteer.
For more information, search ‘CASA of Knox & Laurel Counties, Inc.’ on Facebook. You can also visit their office located across Broad Street from the Annex in London or write to them at P.O. Box 3156, London, KY 40741.