Tennessee Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) recently announced the launch of a statewide campaign aimed at attracting volunteers to close the gap between abused and neglected children in need of an advocate to represent their best interests with the goal of securing a safe, permanent home.
It is estimated that 20,000 vulnerable children in Tennessee could benefit from a CASA volunteer each year as they seek a permanent solution while navigating the juvenile court system.
"Being a CASA volunteer is one of the most rewarding and meaningful journeys one can take as a volunteer. We need more Tennesseans to decide to be for the child and help serve the tens of thousands of Tennessee children who need an advocate," Tennessee CASA Executive Director Lynne Farrar said. "As a CASA volunteer, one can be certain of making a lasting difference in a child's life."
Across Tennessee, 1,444 TN CASA volunteers currently serve 5,250 children. After extensive training and with support from the local CASA program, the CASA volunteer is appointed by the juvenile court and has the authority to talk to all people on behalf of the child to submit a comprehensive, objective report to the court making best interest recommendations. This includes area volunteers based out of the CASA office at 111 Castle Heights Avenue in Lebanon, which is led by Cathey Sweeney. To reach 20,000 additional children, the number of volunteers in the state will need to triple - a goal TN CASA understands will take time.
"The national slogan for CASA is 'I am for the child,' which is why our campaign will ask the people of Tennessee to be 'for the child,'" Farrar noted. "We want the idea of being for the child synonymous with CASA volunteerism. We hope, over time, this will be a widely recognized volunteer opportunity for people across the state who have the desire to make a positive impact on the life of a child. CASA volunteers speak up for a child during a traumatic time in their lives. This makes all the difference."
Messaging for the "Be For The Child Volunteer Recruitment Campaign" will be integrated and highlighted in various CASA statewide communications throughout the year. The campaign includes a website, BeForTheChild.org, and will highlight seven district volunteers throughout the state through social media advertising. These special highlighted volunteers include Ann Marie Nordgren, a volunteer with Wilson County CASA.
"When I was a child, I was in foster care myself," said featured volunteer Callie Freeman. "I felt I was forgotten. I felt like there was no one to be my voice, so when I learned that as a CASA volunteer I would be able to be the voice for a child in need, I knew I had to volunteer."
"The mission of the local CASA program is to provide you the training and the tools necessary (to become a volunteer)," Sweeney explained. "By being for the child during a traumatic period of time, a CASA can make a positive impact on the life of the child - which in turn helps our community prosper. We encourage those looking to make a real difference in the life of a child to contact our office at (615) 443-2002 or visit BeForTheChild.org to sign up or request more information."