The group launched the “Be for the Child Volunteer Recruitment Campaign” to find 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.”
More than 1,400 Tennessee CASA volunteers currently serve 5,250 children. After extensive training an with support from local CASA programs, 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, which is led by Cathey Sweeney. To reach 20,000 additional children, he number of CASA volunteers in the state will need to triple – a goal Tennessee CASA leaders understand will take time.
“The national slogan for CASA is: ‘I am for the child,’ which is why our campaign will ask people of Tennessee to be for the child,” Farrar said. “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 of 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.
“When I was a child, I was in foster care myself,” featured volunteer Callie Freeman said. “I felt I was forgotten. I felt 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.”
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and exhibit intelligence, heart and character. No prior experience is expected or necessary to become a volunteer. All the tools needed to be successful advocate will be provided in the CASA volunteer program.
“The mission of the local CASA program is to provide you the training and tools necessary,” Sweeney said. “By being for the child during a traumatic period of time, a CASA volunteer 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.”
“Research demonstrates just one caring adult can make a lasting impact on the trajectory of a child’s life. CASA is uniquely positioned to play that life-changing role, said Linda O’Neal, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth executive director. “Studies have shown mitigating the impact of adverse childhood experiences directly improves health outcomes for children across their lifespan. By advocating for the needs of our most vulnerable children, CASA volunteers have the opportunity to change lives and communities for the better.”
For more information, visit tncasa.org.