The CASA Nevada Association launched a new effort this week to recruit more volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children in Clark County.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates Association event took place Thursday afternoon outside the Clark County Family Court building.
The new partnership between District Court and the Champions for CASA aims to give a voice to many more abused and neglected children, District Court Chief Judge Jerry Wiese said during a press conference.
“In Clark County there are 3,200 abused or neglected children experiencing extreme difficult and traumatic circumstances,” said Rebecca Burton, a judge for the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division. “[They] are in need of an advocate to speak on their behalf of their best interest.”
“I have personally worked with six children over the past three and a half years,” Jenifer Page, president of Champions for CASA, said. “In that time I have seen what could happen to kids who do not have a CASA there to advocate for them.”
Those kids often have gone through several placements, multiples runaways, disruptions and hospitalizations as a result of the trauma they have experienced, Page said.
A proclamation read aloud during Thursday’s event highlighted how the work of CASA volunteers helps children. It notes children with advocates experience significantly fewer placements, are less likely to re-enter the child welfare system and receive more services improving their well-being.
The work volunteers do is incredibly important, said Steven Grierson, court executive officer for the Eighth Judicial District. CASA volunteers spend time to get to know a child and also spend hours of their lives advocating and expressing what they believe is in the best interest of the child.
“That volunteer opportunity is so special. It’s so honorable,” he said.
Sheila Parks, program administrator at Eighth Judicial District Court CASA Program, said CASA volunteers have an opportunity to have an impact on a child’s life. “You really can make a difference,” she said.