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Social Service Spotlight: CASA


In an effort to continuously find safe and permanent homes for abused and neglected children, the Child Advocacy Services Agency opened a visitation center in Effingham County in order to further that purpose.

In Georgia, approximately 12,700 children at any one time are involved in the foster care system because they are victims of abuse and neglect.

The agency serves kids from birth to age eighteen who are involved in juvenile court proceedings due to cases of abuse and neglect.

Child Advocacy Services was introduced in 2002 as a sponsoring agency for the Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates program that has sought to include additional services that go beyond the representation of children during juvenile court proceedings.

As one of the two biggest counties in the Ogeechee Judicial circuit of the program (that also includes Bulloch, Screven and Jenkins counties), Effingham’s visitation center is representative of the outreach that is promoted by CASA to develop and support affiliate programs throughout the state of Georgia.

The Ogeechee circuit is currently one of the 48 judicial circuits that include 148 Georgia counties being served by 46 existing affiliate CASA programs intended to protect the needs of all the neglected children in the state.

CASA works to insure that all children receive the highest quality of advocacy and care through the assignment of CASA volunteers.

Designated staff members within CASA programs work directly with CASA volunteers as they recruit, train, screen and supervise them.

These volunteers are intended to act as the eyes and ears of the court as they gather information from anyone who may be able to shed light on the child’s situation.

Each volunteer attends court proceedings and makes an independent recommendation to the judge about what is in the child’s best interests in order to bring a sense of urgency to the child’s needs.

As the director of the program, Lainie Jenkins recognizes the urgency for every child to have their needs responded to through the help of volunteers.

“Our consistent goal is to reach a point where every child in the system has a CASA”, Jenkins said.

This focus on the children is further strengthened by the fact that following a required one-year commitment, each CASA volunteer is encouraged to remain involved with the assigned case until it is permanently resolved, which allows the children to benefit from the sort of consistent relationship that has been absent from most of their lives.

In order to insure that volunteers are prepared for such a commitment, they are required to complete for 40 hours of required training that prepares them for the intended duties.

The next volunteer training orientations are on Jan. 3 and Jan. 7.

For more information, location and time, contact or 912-663-0131.