Children in Marion County who wind up in the court system from abuse or neglect will soon have voices to speak for them.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Eighth Judicial District has been awarded a $22,985 grant from the Kansas Attorney General to train volunteers in Marion and Dickinson counties to serve as child advocates in court proceedings.
“We’re very excited,” executive director Sarah Talley said. “We have not had active cases in Marion County in quite awhile.”
CASAs works with children who are abused or neglected, Talley said.
“They’re the constant through a young child’s life at a very difficult time,” Talley said. “CASA volunteers are the eyes and ears for the judge to see that all the court-ordered requirements are being carried out. In the midst of all the things going on to help to repair a family, the CASA is there for the child.”
Eighth Judicial District Chief Judge Michael Powers is pleased a service available elsewhere in his district is expanding to Marion County.
“CASA has been a very helpful organization in Geary County for many years. We’ve never had the funds to effectively take it into other counties,” Powers said. “Taking it outside of Geary County can only be a good thing for children in need of care.”
The public relations campaign to recruit volunteers will begin in January, and informational meetings will be held in March, Talley said. Volunteer training will take place in April.
“We hope to have some volunteers ready by the first of June,” Talley said. “If we could train at least 10, that would be wonderful.”
Talley said the grant will fund program development and training to establish an ongoing CASA presence in Marion County.
“One of our long term goals is to have an individual in each county we serve that is like a master volunteer, who makes sure everyone knows what’s going on, and have that face in the community for CASA,” Talley said. “We want people to know we’re making a long term commitment.”
Talley said she is ready to start getting the word out about CASA.
“I would love to come visit with any of the clubs who are interested. I want to know what people think we can do for them,” Talley said. “Marion County has great people who like to serve, and we’re looking forward to working with them.”
Organizations and clubs wanting to schedule a program about CASA can contact Talley at (785) 762-3907.