Page 105 - Cityview Magazine - July/August 2017
P. 105

it’s a process,” Sink says, “but we have to be careful about what we’re doing.” Above all, the interview becomes
the most telling part of the application process, as potential volunteers discuss their motivations for wanting to participate. Staff take this opportunity to go in-depth on what it really means to be an advocate.
“The person has to be committed,” Sink says. “It does take a good deal
of time and effort to do this. It’s not something where you come once a week or once a month and help and then you’re done. But it’s clear for people, once they become a volunteer, that they are making a tremendous impact on these kids.”
Just Ask Marcia Bailey
Bailey has been a CASA volunteer for the last three-and-a-half years. As a mother of three, former instructor for the Bradley Method of childbirth, and someone who spent time working in law enforcement, the safety and stability of youth are critically important to her.
“I was fortunate to be in a very stable, functional family growing up,” she says, “but I’ve had periods of times
in my life where I’ve gotten glimpses of dysfunction and trouble and other issues that affect families, in particular children.”
After being introduced to the organization by an out-of-state friend and taking time to make sure the moment was right to begin such a commitment, Bailey applied, relishing the opportunity to make a difference.
Once she completed her training, she, like all other advocates, was sworn in by Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin as an officer of the court.
“We swear them in to give them authority to investigate,” Irwin says. “It also ties in to confidentiality standards. We want our kids up here to have a
good level of confidentiality where their records and behaviors are protected from outside scrutiny. By law, it’s not the public’s business.”
He sees CASA’s work as a “vital tool” to the juvenile court system: “It is absolutely one of the most potent weapons that we have to make lives
better for children in Knox County.” And it’s that attitude that makes Bailey feel her work is making the difference she hopes for.
“Judge Irwin and his magistrates take our work seriously,” she says. “They count on us.”
Called to Serve
When Irwin hears a case where he perceives he may not be getting all of the details, he will call upon CASA. Allegations may have been made of abandonment, abuse, or neglect. A child may have been removed from the home already by Child Protective Services because they’ve been determined to
appointment letter, to which they look into their pool of volunteers to lock
in an advocate. Once a volunteer is appointed, they work diligently to figure out what’s going on in that child’s life.
The variables are endless when it comes to the cases CASAs are involved in. Sometimes there is an entire team of professionals involved in the case, and at other times CASAs are the only people appointed. They may be assigned to one child or to a sibling group.
When appointed to a case, advocates learn everything they can about the children involved. They meet monthly in a safe space to ensure that the children are doing alright. The location
Britney Sink, Executive Director, and Marcia Bailey, CASA Volunteer of the year.
be at risk of harm. There may be a case where a parent leaves and takes the kids, but the other parent wants them back. A grandparent may be petitioning to have a child taken from an unfit home and become their guardian. Or parents may be asking to get their child out of foster care and back home.
“Some of them are straightforward,” Sink says, “but there are cases where something doesn’t quite add up or there’s some sort of complication where they need someone to check up on it.”
One of two CASA staff based at juvenile court are delivered an
of this safe space is unique to each case, but all are locations where the children do not feel pressure to talk a certain way because of someone who might be in the room, Sink says. For many children, that safe space is at school, at lunch in the cafeteria, or in an after-school program.
Meeting inside a home is often vital to get a clear picture, though, especially if a CASA is working on a case where someone is petitioning to be a custodian for a child. Volunteers are allowed to go into a home to determine whether it is the safest possible environment for the child.

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