Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Nashville and Davidson County is recruiting volunteers to help some of the 2,300 child victims of abuse and neglect in this community. The fall training session takes place from January 21 through February 28 at the CASA offices in East Nashville.

Davidson County Juvenile Court predicts that these children will come to the attention of the court this year, not because they have done anything wrong, but because they have been hurt, abused and neglected at home.

The children find themselves in foster care or temporary situations, often bouncing from home to home. Juvenile Courts must make critical decisions about these vulnerable children’s lives, many times with a disturbing shortage of the facts.

“CASA volunteers always say they find this work incredibly rewarding,” said CASA Executive Director Jane Andrews. “They know that no other agency in Davidson County duplicates our service. In fact, Judge Betty Adams Green has stated publicly that she would like to be able to appoint a CASA volunteer to every child who needs one.”

CASA volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the court. These individuals play a significant role in the child’s life by serving as a fact finder in the judicial process. Volunteers should be at least 21 years of age, have no criminal history, and have a strong interest in protecting the rights and needs of children.

The Court Appointed Special Advocate training consists of 33 hours of classroom instruction, which is available in both morning and evening sessions. Advocates will be supervised by CASA staff as they make a lifelong difference in the lives of the children they serve. These non-paid volunteers will receive a thorough working knowledge of the court system. In addition, they will learn effective advocacy techniques, as well as a variety of relevant topics, from adolescent behavior to signs of sexual abuse.

CASA believes that it is never too late to have a happy childhood, and it is never too late to help someone else have one. Individuals who would like to get involved to help children who have been abused or neglected in Nashville should call (615) 425-2383.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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