Child Advocates Looks to Train More CASAs

    An organization that gives children a voice when they are in need is calling on the community for help. Each year Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASAs help hundreds of children who've been removed from their home due to neglect or abuse.
    Child Advocates of Wichita Falls represents the child and speaks on their behalf throughout the court process. Right now, there are more children than volunteers, so the program is looking for the community to help.
    Love and stability are two things most parents give their children. Mary Melvin knows that all too well, as a mother of two herself. But she's also a CASA, a volunteer helping other children. It's a role she's cherished for almost 7 years.
    "I think anyone that love children has a desire to protect them, to help them, and some of the smaller children cannot represent themselves in court," said Melvin.
Melvin's goal along with other CASA's is to make sure all the children's voices are heard during a difficult time.
    "I've grown to respect the children so much. They are so strong and resilient through their family situation, and it's made me a more caring person and stronger person," said Melvin.
In Wichita County 1 out of every 50 children is a victim of abuse or neglect, so the need for CASA's is continuously growing.
"It seems unfortunately that our case load continues to grow, we have an ever expanding case load," says Rob Bryant, Child Advocates Executive Director.
    Bryant says with the CASA's interaction these children often have fewer foster homes, and their cases go through the system faster.
    "The kids really really benefit from having someone looking out for them," says Bryant.
Both Melvin and Bryant say it takes just a few hours a month to make a difference in these children's lives.
    "The main thing is that you love children and you protect them. You'll find time to do what you can," says Melvin.
    If you are interested in becoming a CASA training begins next Tuesday, January 17th. Classes are Tuesday through Thursday from 9-2 for two weeks. For more information on this click here.

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