CASA grant supports new volunteers - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

CASA grant supports new volunteers

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The National CASA Association was recently awarded a grant for $39,500 to the 2nd Judicial District in Northeast Arkansas. 

The grant will support one full-time staff person to manage 30 new volunteers who were recruited last year. In the five counties served by CASA of Northeast Arkansas, more than 600 children were in the foster care system last year and were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.

"As my kids got older, I prayed about it a lot but one thing I kept coming back to was to help somebody else," said Joni McNabb, who started off as a volunteer and now works as an advocate coordinator for Craighead and Poinsett Counties.


CASA trains community volunteers to advocate for these children in the courtroom and become the eyes and ears for the judge. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. 

"We can have a tremendous impact," said McNabb. 

After having eight kids, McNabb did not expect to "mom" even more kids. She realized there are some things you can't control but that didn't stop her from trying. 

"What you get back from it is immeasurable," McNabb said.


A CASA volunteer is sometimes the only consistent person in a child's life. A volunteer may have up to two cases at one time but they are only asked to work 10 to 15 hours a month.


Donna Lamb-Bowyer is the executive director of CASA 2nd Judicial District and said the grant gives them more resources to train 30 volunteers. This year the organization recruited 45 volunteers,which is a new record. 

"This grant will serve us for one year, give us the funds to have that extra person that we need to work with our new volunteers," she said. 


Some counties need more volunteers than others. Amanda Frankenberger is an advocate for Greene and Clay Counties and said they have more than 200 children in foster care, but they are only serving 45 kids. 
 
"With the holiday season coming up, I really want everyone to be mindful of their blessings and everything that they have," said Frankenberger. "If I can help motivate somebody to speak up for a child who needs them, that makes my job worth it."

Volunteers complete a 30 hour training over five to six weeks. In Arkansas, there are 23 CASA programs serving 65 counties. 

"By the year 2020, the Arkansas state CASA goal is to serve every child in foster care," Frankenberger said. 


For more information on become a volunteer you can visit the CASA website at www.neacasa.org or call 870-935-1099. CASA volunteers must be at least 21-years-old and undergo a background check. 

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