CASA volunteers needed in Independence County - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

CASA volunteers needed in Independence County

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) -

Independence County needs volunteers to help children going in and out of foster care.

CASA's 16th district spent Saturday recruiting new volunteers and informing the public about the organization.

Kellee Fletcher, a CASA volunteer, said she started volunteering because she wanted to share her blessings with others.

“Exciting, fun, stressful, it's a little bit of everything,” Fletcher said.

That is how Fletcher described being a CASA volunteer, but she said it's worth it.

“You are the one person that they see every single month, and they get to know you, and they are excited to see you,” Fletcher said.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Advocates are used when children are removed from their homes and put in foster care, whether it's temporary or permanent.

“We recruit and train volunteers to advocate for children that are in foster care,” Executive Director of CASA for the 16th district, Colleen McKenzie said.

McKenzie said they are in desperate need for volunteers.

“In 2013, there were approximately 200 children taken into foster care in this county, and we simply do not have enough volunteers to provide services to each child,” McKenzie said.

When there aren't enough volunteers, children just go without a CASA advocate. Advocate Coordinator for Independence, Izard, and Fulton counties, Angela Chaffin said some cases get volunteers and some don't.

Chaffin said they are thankful to have Mark Martin Ford in Batesville because the dealership gave up their space to help them recruit Saturday.

“It's a very worthwhile organization,” CFO for Mark Martin, Ernie Pectol said. “We are excited to be able to help them.”

Chaffin said these volunteers are crucial because they give a different perspective than other agencies such as lawyers and DHS case worker.

“It is very important to have all that information for the judge so that he can determine the best placement and the best next step for a child,” Chaffin said.

“It is a court process, so there are attorneys involved, multiple people involved and sometimes they get switched around also, but the CASA volunteer is always there for that child,” McKenzie said.

Fletcher has volunteered for one year, and says it's all about trying to make a difference for a child in need.

“We help kids by helping keep everybody honest in the system,” Fletcher said. “So at the end of the day the judge can make a better decision.”

To volunteer in Independence or surrounding counties, contact Colleen McKenzie at casa16th@hotmail.com or Angela Chaffin at 870-613-1379 or email her at casa16ind@gmail.com.

For more information visit Casaforchildren.org.

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