Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country will offer volunteer child advocate training to individuals age 21 or older beginning Sept. 28.

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the U.S., according to statistics reported by Jo Prout, CASA of Cherokee Country executive director.

More than 700,000 children are found to be abused or neglected in the U.S. each year. More than 1,500 of those children die each year due to abuse and neglect.

In the past year, nearly more than 200 young victims of abuse and neglect were found in Adair and Cherokee County District Courts and Cherokee Nation Tribal Court. While 84 of those children were served by Court Appointed Special Advocates, additional advocates would enable more children to benefit from the life-changing results accomplished by volunteer advocates.

CASA of Cherokee Country is a local nonprofit program that recruits and trains community volunteers to provide one-on-one advocacy for abused and neglected children in juvenile deprived proceedings. CASA advocates are independent voices for young victims ranging in age from newborn to 18, assuring the judges who make decisions about medical, therapeutic, and educational services, as well as home placements, are presented with firsthand information about each child. Their goal is for each child to have a safe, permanent home.

Certification for volunteer advocates will be granted upon completion of the 30-hour virtual training curriculum and six hours of courtroom observation. The training takes place over a period of five weeks.

“Victims of child abuse and neglect deserve protection; they deserve a safe, permanent home. Having a CASA advocate speak up for each child’s best interests brings about positive results more quickly than if the child has no independent voice in court,” said Prout.

An in-depth interview, background checks, and reference checks must be completed prior to entering training. No special experience or education is required, but individuals must be at least 21 years old.

CASA volunteer advocates are men and women who work with judges alongside case workers and attorneys as appointed officers of the court; the focus of their objective appraisal is the best interest of the child.

Individuals interested in becoming CASA volunteer child advocates are asked to phone CASA of Cherokee Country at 918-456-8788 or 866-400-8788, to request an application and arrange for an interview. Applications for training are also available online at www.cherokeecasa.org and at the CASA office, 201 E. Delaware St. The deadline for applications is Sept. 22.

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