Hundreds of kids are in the Jasper County foster care system – a process that can be stressful and scary. But now they’ll have someone extra on their side.
There’s a brand new child advocacy office in Jasper County. It’s the court appointed special advocates, or CASA, volunteers who help foster kids navigate the legal system.
“They’ve left the only home they know, they’re with people they don’t know – the system is involved now, scary things are happening in their lives,” says Debi Koelkebeck.
So Debi Koelkebeck is calling for local volunteers to help smooth the way.
“Anyone can do this who has a passion for helping kids and wants to make sure their voice is heard,” says Koelkebeck.
Koelkebeck is one of the founding members of the Jasper County CASA. Right now, it’s just an office, a director and a few administrative volunteers – but she envisions much, much more.
“To serve all the children – we will need a lot of volunteers. We’ll start slowly and as we can, fund the program and train the volunteers. We’ll just continue to see it grow,” says Koelkebeck.
CASA volunteers will partner with foster kids through the legal process, providing an adult whose only job is to be on their side and to help the judge understand that perspective. CASA is also looking for volunteers to help with other aspects of starting the courtroom outreach.
“Where that person may have skills in fundraising or you know public relations or organizing events and things of that nature,” says Eric Theis.
Volunteers must apply and go through a background screening before starting the 30 hour training process. There are more than 400 foster kids in Jasper County – so this has been the biggest area without CASA volunteers to this point.