LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – CASA of Lexington expanded its capacity to advocate for abused and neglected children in August when 11 new volunteers were sworn in by family court Judge Traci Brislin.
“What you’re about to embark on is something that is fantastic. It can be terrifying at some times, and some of the things you’re going to see and listen to from these kiddos may bring you to tears,” Judge Brislin told the volunteers, who were sworn in virtually over Zoom due to the pandemic.
“But rest assured that no matter what case you get assigned to, every single minute of time that you are giving up and every single minute of time that you are taking away from your families and your lives are changing kids lives for the better. I can’t even hardly get it out without tearing up.”
The new volunteers come as experts say the coronavirus pandemic has sparked an increase in almost all kinds of domestic-relations issues, from violence to child neglect and abuse.
CASA of Lexington Executive Director Melynda Jamison attended the ceremony and told the volunteers without people like them, “we wouldn’t exist.”
“You all are the ones who meet the children on the cases and write the reports and make the recommendations on behalf of these children,” she said. “The role of a CASA volunteer is crucial in many of these cases.”
The volunteers recited their oaths of confidentiality in unison, led by Judge Brislin. New CASA staff members and a new CASA interpreter were also sworn in. The swearing-in ceremony is the final step in becoming a CASA volunteer.
Each one completed a 30-hour pre-service training, also held virtually during the pandemic.
CASA volunteers are regular people who are assigned by judges to cases involving child abuse and neglect. They visit the children regularly, interview adults involved in the children’s lives, and then write reports for the judge.
Those reports provide a comprehensive picture of what’s going on in a child’s life and helps the judge make better-informed decisions. Children with a CASA volunteer are more likely to receive services they need and less likely to be moved around during the case.
And they’re more likely to be placed in a permanent, safe home sooner.
Judge Brislin said the reports she gets from CASA volunteers are always thorough and focused on “the most important thing” — what is best for the children.
“It really helps us to improve the quality of life for these kids,” she said. “And without you guys, we could not do that.”
Judge Brislin told the new volunteers that she’s seen how outcomes for kids are greatly improved when they have a CASA volunteer on their case.
“It’s going to be something that enriches not only the kids’ lives that you’re going to be working with, but it’s going to enrich your life, as well.”
CASA of Lexington has additional online trainings scheduled to begin on Sept. 21 and Oct. 12. Anyone interested in becoming a CASA volunteer can apply online at www.casaoflexington.org/advocates or ask for more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
CASA of Lexington’s trained and supervised volunteers advocate through the family court systems in Fayette, Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties to ensure all victims of child abuse and neglect are safe and thrive in a permanent home.
Changes such as where the child lives or goes to school, changes in social workers, teachers and friends, as well as the uncertainty of what life holds, can be very overwhelming for these children.
The CASA volunteer is there to help recognize what the child needs, work to minimize these detrimental changes, and advocate for positive changes for the child’s future
Learn more at casaoflexington.org, by calling (859) 246-4313 or by emailing email@example.com.