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Child advocates needed in Shelby County

Shelby County continues its rapid growth, which is generally good news, but leaves the court...
Shelby County continues its rapid growth, which is generally good news, but leaves the court system with a bigger need. They’re tackling child abuse. In Shelby County it's happening at a rate that requires additional help.(WBRC)
Updated: Mar. 8, 2019 at 10:58 PM CST
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SHELBY COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Shelby County continues its rapid growth, which is generally good news, but leaves the court system with a bigger need. They’re tackling child abuse.

In Shelby County, it’s happening at a rate that requires additional help.

"I’ve gotten three cases in the last three days,” said Michelle Bond, Shelby County Director of Volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA.

CASA volunteers are trained citizens who are appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of abused and neglected children in court. Bond describes it best, saying it’s eyes and ears looking out for the children.

“In our county there is a need for volunteers to supervise visits. Most parents who have their children taken away can’t have unsupervised visits. So, there’s a huge need for volunteers to be those eyes and ears and be their advocate for the child and speak for the child,” said Bond. “When I started, I didn’t realize there was such a need and when I got trained, I realized, look at all these cases that are coming in.”

During the supervised visits, the CASA volunteer is paying close attention to the interaction the child has with the parent or guardian.

“They are not to be judgmental, but to be an unbiased opinion standing back and watching the interactions that are going on so they can write a report on that,” said Bond.

That report is handed off to the juvenile court so that the judge can determine if it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster care, be placed with other relatives or adoption.

“As hard as it is to read the cases, you are there to try and make a difference in a child’s life,” Bond said.

On average, CASA volunteers across the country help close 100,000 cases a year.

To volunteer you must be 21 years old, willing to donate 6-10 hours per month, and attend training courses. For a complete of requirements and how to sign up visit their website HERE.

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