CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers are needed. Volunteers “are appointed by a judge to recommend the best possible outcome for an abused or neglected child’s future. Whether this means helping to make a connection with adoptive parents or safely reuniting the child with parents or relatives, the ultimate goal of the CASA volunteer is to help ensure that every one of these kids can live in a safe, permanent home.”
Cullman County CASA Case Manager Candice Lingo said, “Volunteers help to be the eyes and ears for the judge on the cases we are appointed. We often bring an outside perspective to the case.”
Individuals who choose to volunteer will be partnered with a child and simply be that child’s “voice.” There are requirements, and although the list is long and seems daunting, Lingo said time isn’t a prohibitor for volunteering.
“It can seem overwhelming, so some are worried about starting to volunteer because they do not think that they can give the time; it is really only about 12 hours a month per case,” she said. A support system is always in place, for guidance or sounding board. “Of course, they have me to help and be a support.”
Volunteers can expect to meet with children at least once a month. They must also complete an evaluation of the parent home or the home of anyone interested in getting placement of the child. As the case comes on the docket, the volunteer will assist in locating resources for the child and their families, giving the judge presiding over the case a written recommendation based on the facts of the case.
Lingo said most of the meetings and visits are at the discretion of the volunteer, explaining, “A lot of communication is through email and phone, and other than court, most meetings are scheduled at the volunteer’s discretion.”
Volunteer applicants must also be 21 or older, have reliable transportation and pass a criminal background check, as well as a background check by the Cullman County Department of Human Resources. A 30-hour training course is also required; however, that is broken out into weekly classes.
The CASA program has seen a huge increase in the number of cases in the last few years. Said Lingo, “Our program is growing. We went from serving 30 or so kids a year to over a hundred. Today, we have almost 150 kids in our program.”
To become a volunteer advocate, contact Cullman County CASA at 256-739-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cullman County CASA is located at 402 Arnold St. NE. Hours are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Find out more at www.cullmancaringforkids.com/casa.html.
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