A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the United States.More than 700,000 children are found to be abused or neglected in the U.S. each year. More than 1,500 of those children die each year due to abuse and neglect.  

In the past year just over 300 young victims of abuse and neglect were found in Adair and Cherokee County District Courts and Cherokee Nation Tribal Court.  Only 55 of those children were served by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) due to COVID-19 community restrictions; however, now that restrictions are lifted,  additional advocates will enable more children to benefit from the life-changing results accomplished by volunteer advocates.

CASA of Cherokee Country is a local non-profit program that recruits and trains community volunteers to provide one-on-one advocacy for abused and neglected children in juvenile deprived proceedings. CASA advocates are independent voices for young victims ranging in age from newborn to 18, assuring that the judges who make decisions about medical, therapeutic, and educational services, as well as home placements, are presented with first hand information about each child. Their goal is for each child to have a safe, permanent home.

CASA volunteer child advocate training will be offered to individuals age 21 or older beginning Nov. 8. Certification will be granted upon completion of the 30-hour flex training curriculum and six hours of courtroom observation. The training takes place over a period of five weeks.

CASA of Cherokee Country Executive Director Jo Prout said, “victims of child abuse and neglect deserve protection; they deserve a safe, permanent home. Having a CASA advocate speak up for each child’s best interests brings about positive results more quickly than if the child has no independent voice in court.” 

An in-depth interview, background checks, and reference checks must be completed prior to entering training. No special experience or education is required.

CASA volunteer advocates are men and women who are appointed officers of the court. They work with judges, case workers, and attorneys. The focus of their objective appraisal is the best interest of the child. 

Individuals interested in becoming CASA volunteer child advocates can contact CASA of Cherokee Country at 918-456-8788 to request an application and arrange for an interview. Applications for training are available online at www.cherokeecasa.org  and at the CASA office, 201 E. Delaware St.  The deadline for applications is Oct. 25.                              

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