Court Appointed Special Advocates of South Central Kentucky will hold an orientation session this month for new volunteers who advocate for abused, neglected and dependent children in the family court system.
Scheduled for Aug. 27 at the Warren County Justice Center, the orientation session is expected to give new volunteers a better idea of the work they will do for CASA ahead of their fall training session.
Because family court proceedings are closed and case files are typically sealed, new advocates are unfamiliar with a lot of the work that goes into the job.
“We feel like, because of the kind of work we do, there’s an air of mystery around what CASA does because of the confidentiality aspect,” said Jana Sublett, CASA executive director. “We want to make sure that people have a really good understanding of what they’re going to be doing when they join our team.”
The orientation is expected to include an overview of what advocates will learn at the fall training session, what happens at the beginning of taking on a case involving at-risk children and what working with the children will entail.
Sublett said volunteers at the orientation session will receive a broad overview of how family law, culture, poverty, domestic violence, mental health, drug abuse and educational advocacy figure into the cases that advocates will work.
“Most of the time, the cases we get are ongoing, and we have to drop back and see what’s happened to that point,” said Sublett, describing advocacy work that entails meeting with social workers, therapists, pediatricians and teachers to obtain important information.
“Once you have that information you need, that’s when we start a rapport with the kids,” she said.
The majority of children with CASA-trained advocates are in foster care or some other type of out-of-home care, Sublett said.
Last year, 81 volunteer advocates appeared before family court judges in Warren, Barren, Hart and Metcalfe counties, making recommendations based on their findings for 236 at-risk children.
CASA is seeking additional advocates for about 1,000 children who went without their services last year.
“We’re looking out for what’s best for the kids’ interests. We are making sure they have safe permanent homes as quickly as possible,” Sublett said. “We need a lot more advocates and we’re working every single day to bring more advocates here.”
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.