CASA seeking volunteers to represent abused or neglected kids - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

CASA seeking volunteers to represent abused or neglected children

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Volunteers call it rewarding, and challenging. Volunteers call it rewarding, and challenging.
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CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

There is a huge call right now for help for an organization that fights for kids, who can't fight for themselves. 

Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, or CASA, has been around in this country since the 1970s. The southeast Missouri chapter is about to celebrate 20-years in service, but without volunteers these abused and neglected children have no one to speak for them when they need it the most.

"We have educational neglect, medical neglect, actual physical neglect," said Linda Nash-Executive Director, CASA of Southeast Missouri. "When parents are substance abusing, they're often not taking good care of their children."

While the juvenile office, and the children's division steps there is still more that is needed.

"CASA trains community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused or neglected children," said Nash. 

"I loved it, was one of the best jobs I ever had," said Joan Drury. 

Drury volunteered with CASA for 10 years where she worked with kids of all ages.

"I had 16-17 year olds down to a newborn baby," said Drury. 

Many of the children are in foster homes, some with other family members.

"They are working toward getting back with their family of origin, or if we're finding that family of origin is not working then we'll work toward guardianship or adoption," said Nash. 

There are hundreds of children in the Perry, Cape Girardeau, and Bollinger County area in need of representation.

"We served about a 1/3 of the children in the 32nd judicial circuit last year, we need to serve all of them," said Nash. 

Betsy Yunck is a new volunteer who is advocating for a small child.

"It's really nice to know she's take care of, and I have a say in it as well," said Yunck. 

The volunteers meet with the children at least once a month, and are involved in just about every aspect of the case, even in court.

"You write a report based on your knowledge of what you think is in the best interest of the child," said Yunck. 

It helps the judge make his or her decision.

Volunteers call it rewarding, and challenging.

"Hard to see some of the things you see, and the situations they live in brings tears to your eyes," said Drury. 

"They're very vulnerable, it's an opportunity to be a stable example and mentor in their lives as sometimes we're the only ones," said Yunck. 

"We speak for these children, and they all need someone to speak for them," said Nash. 

Volunteers must pass background checks, and go through training.

To find out more head to www.semocasa.org or call (573) 335-1726.

The next training session is scheduled to begin on September 15, 2012.

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