CASA faces severe volunteer shortage after pandemic

“We have more children than volunteers to serve them”
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 10:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Court Appointed Special Advocates of Red River have been facing volunteer shortages since the pandemic. They have been forced to turn down cases.

CASA provides kids in the foster care system a volunteer to spend time with them and speak on their behalf in court. These kids have either been abused and neglected. Volunteers in the program go through a training process so they are empowered to support these kids once they are in the court room.

“Since the pandemic we definitely have lost quiet a bit of volunteers and I think that’s just because of the way the economy is at this point. A lot of people don’t have as much time and their working more and so we definitely lost a good percentage of our volunteers. Right now we’re sitting right around one hundred and we want to be at like one-hundred and fifty and we also have about seventy cases without volunteers on them right now so we have about seventy kids we need to get volunteers assigned to” Volunteer Coordinator Casey Washington said.

The biggest challenge volunteers face is time. Most are working full time jobs and have families of their own. Having to manage their own life and provide these kids the support they need can be overwhelming.

Dawn Ferrell is a retired veteran who has volunteered with CASA for the past two years. “I’ve always had an interest in CASA and being a volunteer but I was working full time, I was in the military and so I never had a chance to but I retired a little over two years ago and when I moved to Wichita Falls it’s the first thing I decided I wanted to do was to go through training to be a casa volunteer,” Dawn Ferrell said.

CASA of Red River has served kids across Texoma. Those interested in becoming a volunteer just have to call the center and find out when they will be holding CASA 101 meetings to answer any questions.

Qualifications for those wanting to be CASA volunteer are:

- Be 21 years of age or older

- Pass background check and screening

- Successfully complete initial training provided by CASA of Red River. (30 hours of initial training plus 3 hours of courtroom observation & 12 hours of continuing education)

- Be able to make a 24-month commitment to a case

- Be able to keep all information confidential