There is a shortage of volunteers to help children in the legal system in Dallas at a time when the volunteers are needed most.
Right now, there are CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates – volunteers for three out of every five abused children in Dallas who need them.
The volunteers are appointed by judges, and they advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes. About 1,000 children still need an advocate in Dallas right now.
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If a child does not have a CASA worker, many generally rely on their caseworkers and attorneys.
"The reality is that a child's caseworker may change multiple, multiple times over the course of the time they are in protective care and what our advocates bring is that constancy," said Kathleen LaValle, executive director and president of Dallas CASA.
It is fulfilling work for Audrea Lemons, who became a CASA volunteer in 2011.
"I lived right here by the office, and I was driving up and down the street every day, and there was this big sign – at this point when they were in the other building – that said 'volunteer to help abused children,'" said Lemons.
Lemons and other CASA volunteers spend time with children and make recommendations to the judge on their living situations. While caseworkers have many cases they are working on, the CASA volunteer has one case.
CASA is a one-year commitment, along with 30 hours of training.
For more information on how to volunteer, visit: https://www.dallascasa.org/.