Court appointed advocates invaluable to abused children



Abused and neglected children are brought before juvenile court in the search for solutions to their plight.

In 1976, concerned over making decisions about the lives of such children without sufficient information, a Seattle judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to obtain such information, to advocate for these children, and to help them through the court experience.

Out of that grew the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, which has just certified the Blount County CASA Association in recognition that this county’s CASA complies with National’s high standards for quality child advocacy.

Blount County CASA, a United Way Agency, was started in November of 2002. Those who volunteer go through a rigorous training program before they are assigned to cases. The juvenile judge in Blount County, John J. Dobson, orders the appointment of a CASA worker to a juvenile matter. The worker then becomes an advocate for the child and reports to the court.

Since its inception, more than 100 abused and neglected chidlren in Blount County have been served. Judge Dobson has praised CASA for its positive contribution in seeing after our abused and neglected children.

So successful was the Seattle program, that judges across the country now use citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today, more than 950 National CASA member programs operate across the country, with more than 70,000 men and women serving as CASA or guardian ad litem
volunteers.

For further information or to make a charitable contribution, contact Sarah Calvert, 205-625-4577 or email Ccals411@peoplepc.com.