BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- When a resilient community like Central Oregon finds itself in need, service-minded community members answer the call. On March 2, 25 new CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers were sworn in remotely by Judge Bethany Flint and Judge Annette Hillman after completing 40 hours of distance training.
“Kicking off 2021 with one of the largest classes of advocates to be sworn in has been pretty amazing! The ability to attend online classes has given a great deal of flexibility and I hope the addition of our first ever upcoming spring virtual training Saturday session will provide even more people to answer the call to volunteer,” said Kristina Florin, CASA Training Coordinator.
The intensive weekly training process includes a background check and an interview with a Judge before being sworn-in as an officer of the court and assigned a child or sibling group currently in foster care.
The CASA volunteer then becomes the voice to represent the child’s best interest in court and to help secure services the child may need, usually over a two-year time span.
CASA of Central Oregon, which has offices in Bend, Madras and Prineville, serves the needs of all abused and neglected children in foster care.
Last year, 427 children spent time in foster care in Central Oregon. More than 360 of these children had their own individualized CASA volunteer. It is anticipated that an influx of children will enter foster care as children return to in-person schooling.
Abuse and neglect increases as families face stressors caused by COVID-19, including parental stress and economic uncertainty.
The goal of CASA of Central Oregon is to recruit, train and support enough volunteers so that every child in foster care has an advocate to be their voice in the courtroom and to secure the services children need.
Ron Paradis recently completed the online CASA volunteer training. “I am so looking forward to helping young people in our community. I know this will be a very difficult but also very rewarding experience. The extensive training program did a great job giving us the basics about what to expect and how to work in this challenging environment. As a 30-year resident of Central Oregon, I look forward to being able to give back but helping out in a meaningful way."
The next training will be held entirely online on Saturdays, beginning April 3 through May 22, from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Additional information is available at www.CasaOfCentralOregon.org/volunteer or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-389-1618.