Wednesday, Sept. 26, Magistrate Deborah Domine swore in four community members as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children.
Family and friends gathered in the Elkhart County Courthouse to watch Casilda Chenier, Carla Weldy, Malinda Wobrock and Janelle Clements take an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of the child.
The newly appointed CASA volunteers join over 90 other dedicated community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the county’s juvenile court system. As officers of the court, they ensure that the children’s needs are recognized, and best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.
CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child regularly and are authorized to interview people in the child’s life such as social workers, attorneys and teachers. They attend court hearings with the child and report their findings to the judge.
“Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home,” said Justin Allen, director of the Elkhart County CASA Program. “The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”
With many children waiting for a CASA volunteer, many more advocates are still needed. There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 34 hours of training.
The next advocate training session for Elkhart County begins in February of 2019. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact Justin Allen at 574-522-1998 ext. 225 or visit our website at www.capselkhart.org/programs/casa