MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 8, 2013

Child advocate training sessions start this month


— Volunteers are needed to act as advocates for abused and neglected children in Muskogee and Wagoner counties. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Children Inc. is offering a free multiweek training session. To request an application, call the CASA office at (918) 686-8199. Completed applications are due by Sept. 17.

The purpose of a CASA volunteer is to protect and guide a child, who is usually in foster care, through the court system and help the child find a safe, nurturing and permanent home. Through court appointments, volunteers research the background of the child’s case, interview all parties and service providers, monitor progress towards the case goals and make recommendations to the courts. Volunteers submit written reports and appear in court at case reviews. Their recommendations represent what they believe to be in the child’s best interest.

 The classes will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning Sept. 23 and ending Oct. 3. The training will conclude with certification by District Judge Tom Alford of Muskogee and District Judge Darrell Shepherd of Wagoner.

Topics covered in the 30-hour training include courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system, and the special needs of abused and neglected children. Interviewing and information gathering skills are also covered. The training includes observation of actual courtroom cases in progress.

Court Appointed Special Advocate is a nonprofit organization. Volunteers must be 21 and must pass a background check and a personal interview with CASA staff members before they can begin training. Volunteers from all cultures, professions, ethnic and educational backgrounds are welcome.

Information: (918) 686-8199 or casaforchildren@sbcglobal.net.