CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Bradley and Polk counties is expanding its child advocacy program in Polk County by establishing a physical office in the region, and adding a part-time position that will focus on advocating for the children of Polk County.
“Our local CASA has been advocating for children in Polk County since 2010. Though, until now, we have never had a physical location in Polk County or a staff member to focus solely on that region,” said Executive Director Christopher Janetzko. “We are eager to provide the children of Polk County with an even stronger support system.”
Beginning in the middle of September, CASA will be holding its first volunteer advocate training program specifically for Polk County residents.
The training sessions will be led by the recently hired Polk County volunteer supervisor Jane Wright.
“Advocates help the voice of the child reach the judge, and that often makes a life-changing difference,” explained Wright.
For the past three years, she has served as a volunteer advocate in that region and has helped to significantly expand CASA’s presence in Polk County.
“Three things make Wright a perfect fit for this new position,” stated Janetzko. “Wright is a longtime resident of Polk County, she has a diverse professional background including being a retired law enforcement officer, and she also has a strong history of working to advocate for the children of Polk County.”
In 2018, according to Kids Count, more than 200 children ended up in the Polk County court system as a result of reported abuse or neglect.
CASA volunteers work to get to know children like these on a personal level and speak with other interested parties to gain a full picture of the child’s home situation. Once the volunteer has an understanding of the child’s needs, they will submit a report to the court. The report helps to give the judge a broader understanding of what is in that child’s best interest.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer advocate in Bradley or Polk Counties should visit casabp.org or call 423-472-5800.
Volunteers will be trained by CASA about child welfare best practices and how to advocate for a child’s best interest.
Once completing the training these volunteers will be sworn in by a judge and then will be able to advocate for a child in Bradley or Polk counties.
Funding for this project comes in part from the National CASA/GAL Association. CASA is also funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee.
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