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New CASA volunteers sworn in

Team Radio Marketing Group - November 28, 2016 12:29 pm

Ten new volunteer advocates were sworn in by Judge Brock on Nov. 21 at the Kay County offices of CASA of Kay and Noble Counties. Front row, from left, Judge Brock, Melanie Gartside, Allison Allensworth and Debbie Thomas. Back row, Donya Gartside, Michael Voorheis, Becky Adams, Nina Vincent, Mandi Church, Tracy Bruffett and Harry Camero.

CASA of Kay & Noble Counties welcomes 10 new Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers to the organization.

Special Judge Jennifer Brock swore in the advocates Nov. 21 at the Kay County offices of CASA of Kay and Noble Counties. The offices are located at Northern Oklahoma Youth Services.

The program welcomes Becky Adams, Allison Allensworth, Tracy Bruffett, Harry Camero, Mandi Church, Donya Gartside, Melanie Gartside, Debbie Thomas, Nina Vincent and Michael Voorheis to the team as new Court Appointed Special Advocates.

The newly appointed CASA volunteers join other community members who have been trained and are advocating for children in state custody. They are a diverse group of men and women coming from a variety of different backgrounds.

“My deep sense of community service was fostered in my youth as an Eagle Scout in Troop 88 in Claremore, then manifested in volunteering for the US military and now, supported by my employer, Phillips 66, as a CASA volunteer.” said Bruffett, new CASA volunteer and Lead I&E Designer for Phillips.

The volunteers participated in CASA’s “Flex-Training”, which is predominately an online training curriculum. The online training was done at the trainee’s convenience over a five-week period. In addition to the online training, volunteer applicants met in-person with CASA staff once a week over those five weeks for additional training.

The curriculum topics included courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system, the special needs of abused and neglected children and more.

Observation of actual courtroom cases in progress was also included in the training.

“I appreciate all of the hard work and effort that Sharon Mocabee-Sisco, CASA’s Program Director,  and Jennifer Vaughan, CASA’s Advocate Coordinator, put into our training. Their passion, drive and commitment to help CASA succeed is incredible,” said Vincent, a new CASA volunteer employed at Eastman National Bank. “Judge Brock, explaining her heart when working with these children who just need to know someone is looking out for them,  made such an impact and showed that she truly cares about these children.”

A CASA volunteer is a trained community member who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of a child or family of children in the court system. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life. CASA advocates make informed recommendations based on their independent investigation as to the child’s best interest.

The advocate is charged with identifying the child’s needs and strengths and ensuring services, family visits and other court orders are completed. Advocates act as a communications link in the maze of the child welfare system, ensuring the child’s voice is heard.

CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and do not require any specialized degrees or legal experience. They are simply people who care about children and their commitment to advocate for their best interests.

The next advocate training curriculum for CASA of Kay & Noble Counties will begin Jan. 9.

To learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate or to complete on online volunteer application, visit www.KayNobleCASA.org or call Northern Oklahoma Youth Services’ CASA program at (580) 762-8341.


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