Page 104 - Cityview Magazine - July/August 2017
P. 104

GivinG the Children a voiCe
52 CASA of East Tennessee volunteers advocate in juvenile court for abused and neglected children.
Story by Rebecca Whalen
children in the United States fall victim to abuse or neglect.
In 2015 alone, that number was estimated to be roughly 683,000, according to a report published earlier this year by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Sadly, the Volunteer State is not exempt from this statistic. Nearly 11,400 children were found to be neglected or abused in Tennessee in 2015, a number that rose almost 23 percent in four years.
While the statistics are staggering, one organization in East Tennessee is ensuring that those children are being given a voice. Enter Court Appointed Special Advocates of East Tennessee.
A National Voice
Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA as many know it, was created
to address this growing struggle. The National CASA Association traces
its roots back to the late 1970s in Washington State where a juvenile court judge thought that volunteers could
be the voice for abused and neglected children inside court walls. Today, the association includes a network of 1,000 local and regional chapters in 49 states.
Not ten years after the national organization was created, local Judge Carey Garrett established CASA of
East Tennessee, believing that the organization could aid the juvenile court system in gathering information critical to the safety of the children within it.
“We have a very specific niche of what we’re working on,” says Britney Sink, current Executive Director of CASA of East Tennessee. “We’re always trying
to push hard for increased community awareness. We’re here to serve the children.”
Becoming an Advocate
At the heart of CASA of East Tennessee is a network of 52 dedicated volunteers, the key word being dedicated. Preparation to become a child advocate involves more than 30 hours of training, but not before an extensive application process, interview, and background check. Additionally, Potential volunteers are required to provide four references with their application. “We understand

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