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Are you looking to make a lasting impression on your community? Then become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and give a voice to the abused and neglected children in Washington County.

CASA for Kids, Inc. is a local nonprofit organization that trains community members to become a CASA who will speak up for the best interest of abused and neglected children in Washington County courts.

CASA volunteers regularly visit and get to know their assigned children. They review records, research information, talk to individuals involved in the child’s life and present their recommendations to the court.

“Our volunteers do not have to have a certain educational background,” Lynn Sylvis, Program Director, said. “Just the ability to communicate well, a heart for children and an open mind.”

Volunteers work as fact-finders who gather pertinent information relative to their child’s case. Advocates are assigned to one family at a time, and work to monitor their assigned child to ensure that their needs are being met. The average assignment typically lasts about 18 months.

Additional ways to support the program include fundraising and efforts to support fellow volunteers.

“We’re not looking for a specific type of person,” Sylvis, said. “Just a person who cares about children.”

And while any type of volunteer experience can be rewarding, making a difference in the life of child can be life altering.

“We have received feedback from the courts that CASA has saved the lives of children,” Executive Director, Carrie Richardson, said. Sylvis agrees. “Most of our volunteers say that getting to know these children changed their lives,” she said. “What our volunteers do is incredibly important and incredibly impactful.”

As of January 2019, there are 29 children on CASA for Kids, Inc. Washington County’s waiting list. Each is in need of an advocate to ensure a bright future.

Interested in becoming a CASA volunteer? Volunteers must be at least 21-years-old, undergo a background check and complete a 30-hour training program. The next training program begins Tuesday, Feb. 12. The program lasts nine weeks, and is designed to prepare advocates for their role. The class runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. one day per week. Training is free. For more information or to register, call 724-228-0414 or visit casawashingtoncounty.org.

Sponsored content brought to you by CASA for Kids, INC.