Aug. 19 marked the end of the summer training session for new Court Appointed Special Advocates of the 20th Judicial District with the swearing in ceremony conducted by Judge David Clark. 

Cathy Potter, Loetta Bradford and Will Bradford have all successfully completed the training and will begin their first case in the coming weeks.

As Court Appointed Special Advocates they will be responsible for advocating in court for the best interests of the abused and neglected children they are assigned to. The goal is ensure they are placed in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. To accomplish this task successfully they will meet regularly with the child and begin to build a relationship of trust so that the child can feel confident that there is one person who will stay with them for the duration of the case and through whom their needs and wishes can be expressed to the judge who is ultimately determining their fate. This relationship is the most important and most rewarding part of the CASA advocates role.

Throughout the duration of the case CASA Advocates are also responsible for interviewing any party who has a relationship with the child. This includes parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, doctors, pastors, baby sitters and many more. The purpose is to develop a clear and comprehensive picture of all of the dynamics in the child’s life so that recommendations regarding services needed and placement opportunities can be made to the judge. 

It is often the CASA advocates involvement that ensures the child is getting all medical, educational and therapeutic services needed in addition to providing a clear determination as to what is needed by the family to make reunification happen. When reunification is not possible, it is the advocates responsibility to locate a suitable safe and permanent placement for the child.

When individuals are considering if becoming a CASA advocate is right for them, there are a few characteristics to keep in mind. A potential advocate is someone who has strong written and verbal communication skills, can maintain confidentiality, is able to travel within the state and has a strong respect for a child’s right to grow up with dignity in a safe and nurturing environment. All advocates do need to be 21 years or older and successfully pass background checks, reference checks and a personal interview. To learn more, please visit www.casa20th.org or call 328.3347.