Ponca City, OK

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CASA training to start Jan. 9

Beverly Bryant - December 27, 2016 12:12 pm

Jennifer Vaughan and Sharon Mocabee-Sisco.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Kay and Noble Counties welcomed Sharon Mocabee-Sisco to the team as Program Director in July.

She brings a wealth of experience to the program with a bachelor’s degree in Human Service Agency Management. Prior to being named Director of CASA, Mocabee-Sisco was a Juvenile Justice Specialist for the State of Oklahoma in Kay County.

Jennifer Vaughan came on board with CASA of Kay and Noble Counties as Advocate Coordinator in August. Before joining CASA, she served at another local non-profit organization with her focus in fund raising and marketing in her time as Development Director and Promotions Director.

As Advocate Coordinator of CASA, Vaughan is dedicated to creating community awareness and supporting advocates. While the number of CASA volunteers has increased by 162.5 percent in just a few short months, there is still an incredible need for CASA volunteers. 

The vision of CASA is for every abused and neglected child in Kay and Noble Counties to be provided with an advocate. 

Kay County ranked No. 10 in Oklahoma in 2014 for the number of cases investigated for child abuse and/or neglect by DHS Child Welfare Services. There were 1,529 children in Kay and Noble Counties combined.

Volunteers are needed to act as advocates for these abused and neglected children in our community. 

The next training for Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers is scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 9. The training is predominately done online and completed at your convenience over a five-week period. The weekly assignment takes anywhere from one to three hours to complete.

In addition to the online portion, volunteer applicants will meet in person with CASA staff once each week over the five-week period to dive deeper into what they’ve learned.

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

At the completion of the training, volunteers will be sworn in as Court Appointed Special Advocates by the judge and will be ready to be appointed their first case. It is then that they can begin advocating for abused and neglected children. 

I’m shocked at the prevalence of abuse and neglect right here in our community. It’s apparent now more than ever just how needed CASA volunteers are.” said Donya Gartside, CASA volunteer and Tech Coach with Ponca City Public Schools.

The first step is to complete the online volunteer application that can be found at their website. The next step will be to complete an in-person interview with CASA staff before Jan. 9.

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 hold a commitment to advocate for their best interests. 

A child who has a CASA volunteer by their side receives more services, moves through the system more quickly and has a better chance of a successful outcome, than a child without a CASA. Most importantly, a child with a CASA is significantly less likely to re-enter the foster care system, meaning a Court Appointed Special Advocate is helping stop the cycle of abuse.

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

 

 

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