CASA director explains what CASA volunteers do for children

December 3, 2020

The Marion County Executive Director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Keith Winters, was the speaker for the Centralia Rotary Club on November 9. He oversees local CASA volunteers who are appointed by a judge to advocate on behalf of children who have experienced abuse or neglect who are involved in the Marion County Juvenile Court System.

An experienced foster parent himself, Mr. Winters gave the Rotarians a few statistics about at-risk children and explained what a CASA volunteer does.

Winters stated that extensive research is required to make sure the child is (or children are) placed in a safe, permanent home. The CASA volunteer assigned to a case researches the case by reviewing records and interviewing the child, their family members, the foster family, teachers and school officials, social workers, healthcare providers, and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history, to help the court make a sound decision about the children’s future. They maintain complete written records of the case including appointments, interviews and any information gathered on the case. The advocate will attend all court hearings for the case and assure that the best interest of the child or children are being represented throughout the process. The CASA will stay with each case they are assigned until it is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.

How does one become a CASA volunteer? Winters said that one must successfully complete all of the following (and more): the CASA application, background and reference checks, a personal interview, pre-service training, and court observations before being accepted and sworn in as a CASA. Volunteers work around 10-15 hours a month and must be 21 years old or older. He pointed out that it takes a special kind of person to do this work, but the difference you can make in a young person’s life is dramatic. If you want to bring hope into these children’s lives, please contact Winters at 618-740-0048. For more information go to: