OTTUMWA — There’s an old saying that “children should be seen and not heard.” That’s not the case for Court Appointed Special Advocates. (CASA)
Since the 1970s they’ve had trained volunteers speak for children’s best interests in courtrooms.
CASA Program Planner Cara Galloway is especially passionate about advocating for children. “I want to use some of the skills I have and my connections to grow a program so we can advocate for children, ” Galloway said.
Galloway wants to see CASA grow, but said growth won’t happen unless more people step up to volunteer. “When we have a healthy community, then our community grows,” she said. “CASA volunteers help families who may not be healthy at the time help them become healthy.”
Volunteers give as much time as they can to be an advocate for a child assigned by a court judge. They can expect training in six modules, some are self-training and others are in person, totaling 34 hours of time. After they complete the training hours, volunteers are expected to have 12 hours of mandatory training each year. “Minimum requirement for a CASA volunteer is to see a child once a month,” Galloway said.
Galloway said CASA is planning a coffee campaign at Top Hat for interested volunteers in late August. The date has not been determined, but their goal is to have interested volunteers come to hear about the benefits of the program. “There a volunteer will speak about the benefits of volunteering,” she said. “We work with individuals to see what fits their schedule and what they want to do.”
Galloway wants people to volunteer to make an impact in a child’s life. “People should volunteer their time,” she said, “because not only is that child getting something out of it but the person volunteering really benefits from it too. They see a different perspective on how different people are.”
For more information on CASA volunteer opportunities, you can find go to childadvocacy.iowa.gov or call Cara Galloway at (515) 509-3745.