All children deserve a voice in their destiny.
Every year, more than half a million children are abused and neglected at the hands of people they should be able to trust to nurture and keep them safe.
Putnam County is no exception to the rule and each week, the Putnam County Courts and the Department of Child Services are faced with the overwhelming responsibility to keep the children safe.
During the process, the court recognizes that children thrown into the legal system need their own voice.
The voice and representative is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
But the current number of CASA volunteers is running short.
CASA representative Patti Harmless recently said the program is looking for new advocates that can dedicate themselves to the program and to children in the county.
The 2007 training program for new volunteers will begin in March and the program is accepting applications at this time.
CASA was created in 1977 as a national program. CASA's are trained community volunteers appointed by the Circuit Court Judge as the voice for abused and neglected children.
A CASA member follows the child's case as it proceeds through the court system, making sure that the child is not lost in foster care.
The CASA volunteer researches the case, learning everything possible about the child's special situation and then goes to court to make a recommendation to the judge on what is best for the child's future.
All CASA volunteers are trained in courtroom procedure, child development, and the juvenile justice system. Volunteers are given the training in the general operations of the Department of Child Services as they serve Children in Need of Services (CHINS).
The Putnam County CASA program, under the direction of the Putnam County Youth Development Commission, has been given the task of providing well-trained competent volunteers to serve these children.
For more information, call Harmless at 653-9342.a