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CASA To Hold Spring Volunteer Training Sessions In Mayville

MAYVILLE — Court Appointed Special Advocates of Chautauqua County wioll hold spring volunteer training to be held Tuesdays from March 3 to April 28 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Chautauqua County Emergency Services Conference Room, 2 Academy St., Mayville.

To attend and enroll, call CASA at 753-4123.

Each year in Chautauqua County, hundreds of children are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. Many of them are removed from their homes and placed in foster care or residential facilities. Children are brought before a Family Court Judge to decide on matters involving custody, permanency and more. CASA volunteers represent the child’s best interests during the judicial process.

In 2019, almost half of the foster children that CASA served were male, so CASA staff are working to consider the impact of recruiting and training additional male volunteers.

“Our goal is to match more foster boys with a positive male role model,” said Kathy Park, CASA executive director. “Just 6% of our volunteers are men. This statistic is startling yet not uncommon among CASA programs across the country. Most caseworkers in the child welfare system are female. Having a male role model that boys can relate to and that have had similar experiences, gives them more hope and direction for the future. Teenage boys frequently age out of the foster care system without finding safe and permanent homes. A positive male role model will help these boys become productive and happy adults.”

In 2019, the 29 volunteers at CASA of Chautauqua County advocated for the needs of 78 abused and neglected children. The number of children that have received a CASA volunteer has grown since 2018. Studies show that foster children who have experienced a CASA volunteer are more likely to find permanency, more likely to receive the quality educational services needed and less likely to fall victim to teen pregnancy, among countless other positive outcomes.

Those interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer are invited to join staff and volunteers for a mixer at Big Inlet Brewing, 6169 Elm Flat Road, Mayville, on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 1-3 p.m. Interested parties will learn about the CASA program and enjoy light hors d’oeurves. All interested in volunteer opportunities are welcome to attend.

CASA volunteers must be 21 years of age and commit to about eight to 10 hours a month on their advocacy.

The process to become a CASA volunteer includes 30 hours of classroom instruction on topics including CASA roles and responsibilities, bonding and attachment, child abuse and neglect, cultural issues, domestic violence, communication, conflict resolution and more. Candidates must pass a criminal background clearance which includes a Criminal History Record search, State Criminal Record search and National Sex Offender Registry search. Volunteers are asked to advocate for their case until permanency occurs, which is about one year.

For more information, call Park at 753-4123, Laurie Winkler, case advocate supervisor, at 753-4132 or visit our website at chautauquacasa.com.

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