Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), Recipient

In 1990, Judge Gerald Myer noticed a significant number of abused and neglected children in Seneca County, Ohio, who were being forced into situations that didn’t take into account their best interests. In answer to this problem, Judge Myer brainstormed with the Seneca County Task Force to create Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA). The program trains volunteers to build relationships with the children so the volunteers can advocate for the children in court. Volunteers help ensure children end up in safe, permanent and supportive homes. Thirty years later, CASA is still going strong and always welcoming new volunteers. The group spreads the word about their work with flyers and marketing yard signs. Building strong relationships with abused or neglected children The relationship CASA volunteers build with their child appointee can be extraordinary. Typically spending 8-10 hours a month working on a specific case, the volunteer must visit the child at least once a month. However, many volunteers visit multiple times a month so they can truly get to know the child and their circumstances. To ensure they understand what’s best for the child involved, a CASA volunteer follows a three-step process: Investigate the circumstances of the child’s abuse or neglect and how to prevent it from happening again. Spend a significant amount of time with the child to develop a real relationship with them. Attend court to let the judge know what the child’s wishes are as well as what’s in their best interest. Sometimes, the children involved maintain a relationship with their volunteer as adults. One previously abused teenager had such a great relationship with his volunteer that he asked the volunteer to attend his graduation. He also continuously reached out for advice throughout his adult years and invited the volunteer to his wedding. “That just speaks volumes of the important relationships our volunteers build with children during a pretty low point in their lives,” said Michelle Hess, Tri County Assistant and Communications Coordinator for CASA. Informing the community about CASA Now serving Ohio’s Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties, CASA has a constant need for volunteers. The organization was thrilled when it received a 4imprint one by one® grant, which was used to purchase marketing yard signs. The hope is that these signs will inspire residents who are already familiar with CASA to volunteer, as well as to educate others on CASA’s work.

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