Lend your Voice. Become a CASA volunteer

Shanna Gray, WV CASA State Director

Remember that kid in your child’s class who got into serious trouble for something you would never have allowed your child to even think about? Knowing that child’s homelife, you – like a lot of parents – probably thought to yourself, “that poor kid never had a chance.” Maybe you thought, “they just need someone to believe in them, someone to be on their side.”  Well, that’s exactly what CASA volunteers do – they give a child a chance; they Change a Child’s Story™.

Then You Came Along Video – CASA

CASA stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocate. A CASA volunteer provides a voice in the courtroom for children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. WV CASA is an association of ten (10) local CASA programs across the state. Our local CASA programs currently serve 32 of our 55 counties in West Virginia.

In 2018, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, reported 5,659 cases of juvenile abuse and neglect resulting in 1057 youth being removed from their homes. Immediately social workers and court systems work in unison to restore a sense of permanency for these youth. The first goal for permanency is reunification with biological family. If reunification is not possible, adoption becomes the next permanent solution.

On average, West Virginia reported 465 days from home removal to permanent placement. During this time of instability, CASA volunteers are an important constant in these children’s lives. With a CASA volunteer, permanency is achieved an average of 1.8 months (54 days) faster.

As the State Director of WV CASA, I support local CASA programs in recruiting and training CASA volunteers to serve children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

A CASA volunteer is a trained advocate representing the best interest of a child in the courtroom. CASA volunteers complete thirty (30) hours of training.

If you are passionate about the youth in your community, you should consider becoming a CASA volunteer. Eligibility is simple: be at least 21 years of age, pass a criminal history background check, and most importantly – be motivated to advocate for children; give them a voice.

To learn more about WV CASA or to express your interest in becoming a CASA volunteer, call me at 304-249-8799. You can also reach me via email at shanna@wvcasa.org or visit our website at www.wvcasa.org