By Eleanor Sevigny
Published in The Burg December 16, 2021
CASA of West Central Illinois is the Court Appointed Special Advocate program. Their mission is to speak up for and support the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect in the court system. CASA is a non-profit organization founded locally in 1994. They work within four counties, Knox, Henderson, McDonough, and Warren. Executive Director of CASA, Kelly Corbin, was able to answer a few questions about CASA.
A CASA “ensures that youth do not get lost in the overburdened child welfare system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. CASAs are the one person whose purpose is only to serve the child. Many children may be relocated several times during their time in foster care and may receive more than one caseworker. We are able to stay with the child the entire time they are in care, which provides continuity for their case and stability for the child.” explained Corbin.
Currently CASA is serving 91 youth through 45 cases. In the four counties CASA serves, there are over 225 cases that still need a volunteer CASA.
“We are limited as to the number of cases we can accept by the number of volunteers we have. Most volunteers handle one to two cases at a time. Cases can last anywhere from nine months to several years. We currently have 35 volunteer CASAs serving, and many more are needed!” explained Corbin.
Volunteers commit to a 30-hour initial training before receiving a case. A volunteer must be at least 21 years old, have transportation to visit the child in their care at a minimum monthly, a good internet connection, be able to pass a background check, be available approximately five hours per month for responsibilities related to their case, and complete 12 hours of continued
education each year.
“Volunteering with CASA provides individuals with an opportunity to make a direct difference in the life of a child who has experienced a crisis.” stated Corbin.
The next volunteer training for CASAs begins in January. Potential volunteers are welcome to email CASA at email@example.com. Another option is to visit CASA’s website at www.casaofwestcentralillinois.org. On the website you are able to fill out an online volunteer application at www.tinyurl.com/becomeacasa. Once you have completed and submitted the form, CASA will then set up an interview and register you for the next training class. Classes are six weeks long taught via Zoom, and are held quarterly.
Volunteers are also needed for their various fundraising committees. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The Board of Directors is also seeking new members. Board meetings are held every other month and individuals from all backgrounds are encouraged to reach out for more information.
Personally Corbin loves working with CASA because, “we get to see our mission in action every day. We directly work with the juvenile justice system and serve children in foster care. The direct impact our volunteer CASAs make on the youth in our care is evident daily.”
Other volunteers have noted that, “working with CASA is very rewarding and the connections they make with the children in their care is very strong.” added Corbin.
Corbin wants the Galesburg community to know, “We want to thank all our supporters and donors for valuing the need for CASAs to support children in foster care. Studies show youth with a CASA spend less time in foster care, are more likely to receive much needed services, are more likely to succeed in school, and have less than a 0.5 percent chance of re-entering foster care. It is beneficial for all communities to ensure all children benefit from a safe and loving home. Thank you for helping us do our part!”