STATESBORO — Without the help of child advocates, several hundred children slip through the cracks of the judicial system every year and many more have to reenter the system utilizing an inefficient amount of resources from the courts. Recognizing the importance of this issue, the Jewelers for Children Foundation gave the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program for the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit a $10,000 grant to help recruit and train advocates for foster children.
“The Jewelers’ grant will be an asset to assist our program in training needed volunteers,” said Carolyn Fields, Executive Director for CASA Ogeechee. “We have approximately 126 children in foster care who do not have assigned volunteer advocates.”
In 2003, the Jewelers for Children Foundation created the ‘Champions for Abused Children’ project for foster children and the National CASA Association. Through the program, Jewelers for Children provides funding to effectively progress the vision of placing a CASA volunteer with every abused or neglected child who needs one.
According to the National CASA Association, a number of JFC supporters have embraced the CASA mission. Mostly owners and executives of jewelry companies, these individuals are affiliated with local CASA programs as volunteers, donors and board members. Manufacturers, retail jewelers, trade associations, watch companies and those who provide professional services to the jewelry industry come together for the benefit of children.
During the 2007 grant cycle, approximately 15 percent of the JFC CASA funding will be used to recruit more volunteers to serve foster children living in urban areas, where the unmet need for CASA volunteers is greatest. The plan calls for the national network of CASA programs to serve 100,000 more children annually by 2008, and greater efforts in volunteer recruitment are a key component to achieve their goal.
The local CASA program opened its doors in February 2002. In July 2002, the first executive director and volunteer coordinator began working in the local community, and the first class of volunteers, which consisted of eight individuals, began receiving cases in January 2003. The local CASA program now serves Bulloch, Effingham, Screven and Jenkins counties.
The office for the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Court Appointed Special Advocates is at the Outreach Center at 515 Denmark Street in Statesboro by the Health Center.
For more information about volunteering, please call (912) 764-4849.