Court Appointed Special Advocates see growth in Fulton County
There has been a recent influx of volunteers for the Fulton County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a group dedicated to being the voice of children in the court and DHS systems.
According to Karyn Brueckner, Fulton County recruitment head for CASA, her job is to recruit and train the volunteers who will speak for children in court.
“It was years ago they had a very dedicated coordinator here in Fulton County who gathered volunteers. It was helpful when she was here but when she retired, it seemed to fizzle out. We didn’t have someone here locally,” Brueckner said. “The 16th judicial district is ours and although they were covering Fulton County, it wasn’t locally. Now, with the grant CASA just got, they were able to hire someone here and now I’m in Fulton County and so it’s helped to have someone locally the volunteers can contact.”
For the most part, CASA has been dormant in Fulton County as far as in-county volunteers, however; more recently, volunteerism has spiked enabling more representation for children.
Brueckner explained CASA has a director and two coordinators for Fulton, Izard and Independence County. Brueckner’s job is to recruit and train volunteers. The volunteers are then assigned locations by the director or district coordinator.
Those who volunteer for CASA become the eyes and ears of judges and help to make more informed decisions in regards to child placement, return to their homes or other courses of action.
“The judge has to make a very hard decision and can’t go to every home. There are case workers and attorneys who are overloaded, but the volunteer can be appointed to go investigate, get to know the child and monitor the case all the way through,” Brueckner said. “They will get to know the child, talk to anyone who knows the child; teachers, doctors, parents, foster parents and the child and find out what the child’s needs and wishes are.”
Through the process, advocates get to know the children they have been assigned to and can help set them in a position for the best possible chances for success in life.
“We train them to take notes so they can put it in a court report and when that time comes, then they can recommend to the judge what they think is in the best interest for the child. They are the voice for the child and can relay what needs to be said,” Brueckner said.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact Karyn Brueckner, CASA Recruiter/Trainer, at 870-750-1140 or email@example.com, or you may message them via the CASA of the 16th Judicial District Facebook page.
“It isn’t for everybody, but the benefits and rewards for the child are priceless. Your heart will be broken and it can be hard but your voice is going to be heard and the judge pays attention to the CASA reports. If you think about the rewards and how you can help a child, it’s worth it,” Brueckner said.