OHIO VALLEY — Meigs and Gallia counties now have more than a dozen advocates working to represent the needs of children in court cases in juvenile court.
On Thursday, 11 new Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) were sworn-in by Meigs County Juvenile and Probate Judge Scott Powell to begin their service as volunteer advocates in Meigs County. The 11 are in addition to one other in Meigs County who was sworn-in earlier in the week and three who were sworn-in in Gallia County as well. There were previously only four CASAs serving Meigs County.
New CASAs serving Meigs County will be Mandy Reuter, Amy Cremeans, Amanda Brinker, Tanya Holter, Cassie Fowler, Bethany Will, Brenda Phalin, Christine Morgan, Heather Brooks, Donielle Carsey, Tiffany McDaniel, and Richelle Jose.
Those serving Gallia County will be Lindsey Myers Thomas, Fran McEwen and Emily Davies. They are the first CASAs in Gallia County.
Meigs-Gallia CASA Program Director Chelsey Kloes welcomed the family and friends who were in attendance to see the new advocates sworn-in.
The role of a CASA volunteer is to advocate for children who are involved in juvenile court cases, including those who may have been abused, neglected or are dependent.
Kloes explained that the new CASAs completed 30 hours of training, and will have to continue to meet training requirements throughout their time as advocates.
Volunteers can be anyone age 21 or older who have a passion for helping children. There is no specific background or education required as the CASA program provides all the necessary training free of charge.
CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for abused or neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many of the children served, their CASA/GAL volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives, according to the National CASA website.
Each Meigs CASA was presented a resolution recognizing their service from the Meigs County Commissioners during the ceremony on Thursday.
Commissioner Randy Smith said, “In Meigs County, if there is a call for help or a need in the community people step up to meet that need. We appreciate what you are doing.”
Following the ceremony on Thursday, each of the Meigs County CASAs were assigned their first cases to work on.
Those who are interested in becoming a CASA may apply by contacting Kloes at 740-992-4616. Currently the trainings for the program take place in Athens in conjunction with the Athens CASA program.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.