ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The Winnebago County Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program hosted an open house Monday, as child advocate volunteers are needed for the program.
Attendees learned about what it meant to be a child advocate and how they could make a difference in a child's life. According to the organization the role of a CASA is, "a trained community member who is appointed by the Juvenile Court Judge to represent the best interest of abused and neglected children brought before the court."
The ultimate goal is to find a safe, permanent home for each child. The organization says 115 trained volunteers work with over 300 children in our community. They spend individual time with each child, providing support and advocacy while they are involved in the court system.
This includes visits with the children and their families, attending school meetings and court appearances. CASA is hoping to reach 200 volunteers by 2024. Volunteers with the organization say that volunteers come from all walks of life and that each form quite the bond with the children from their cases.
Mari Mattocks is one of those volunteers and has been with CASA for just over a year now. She says, "It's a great program for us adults to be helping the children that are in the system. I feel that in one of my cases for instance, the child has been four different case workers I've been the one and only CASA in her case. So I've been a constant and when I go to visit her, she looks forward to the visits, she enjoys our walks and asks me to spend more time with her."
Morgan Bullis is the Advocate Facilitator for CASA and says each case is different, regardless of child's age. She says, "I have seen children come from the hospital into care and they get assigned a CASA, I've also seen children who are nearing adulthood and they need to learn their adult skills like how to do their taxes and things like that. Their CASA can help them do that. A CASA is a multi-faceted role."
You can find out more about how to become a volunteer at CASA's website.