New children’s advocacy group seeks community involvement

Published 8:54 am Monday, February 15, 2016

Carter County residents with experience in public relations, fundraising, finance and children’s advocacy are invited to get involved with a new branch of Court Appointed Special Advocates.
To learn how to help or to have questions answered, community members are invited to attend a Steering Committee meeting on February 26 at 8 a.m. at 305 Lawson Ave. Ste. 2 in Elizabethton. Drinks and pastries will be provided, and applications will be available for those interested or with questions.
The steering committee will create awareness and encourage support from the community for CASA of Northeast TN to expand its services to Carter County, by driving the campaign for resources (volunteers, board members, and funding) needed to establish the program in Carter County.
“Steering committee members serve as a group of people who have endorsed the concept of the program and are willing to lend their names and volunteer their time to establish CASA in Carter County,” said Leslie Dalton, executive director of CASA of Northeast Tennessee.
She anticipates the committee will meet on a monthly basis for about a year, but said this could vary depending on the needs of the community or the organization.
At the first meeting, representatives of CASA will present an overview of the purpose and intent of CASA, allowing time for discussion. They will explain history, development and impact of CASA in other communities as well as establishing goals for the program in Carter County.
CASA volunteers served 428 children in the fiscal year 2012-13 in Greene, Unicoi and Washington Counties. Last year, there were 312 children in the court system in Carter County without a CASA representative.
The effectiveness of the program is evident in that 95 percent of CASA volunteers’ recommendations are accepted by judges when making decisions about children in the court system.
Dalton said that children often experience a feeling of instability moving from home to home, explaining their circumstances to various social workers and often having few personal possessions to create a sense of home. CASA advocates stay with their children and can provide a sense of security and consistency during this volatile time. They get to know their children’s backgrounds, concerns, comforts and experiences in school and with family. As official agents of the court, advocates’ opinions are legally valid and ultimately seek to find permanent solutions for the children involved.
Volunteers stay with a case till it is resolved and the child is in a safe, permanent home.
For this reason, Dalton and numerous agencies in Carter County feel it is important to extend this service to children and families in Carter County. For more information, contact Dalton at 423-461-3500.

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