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CASA can't serve all kids in foster care without 58 more volunteers
Hall-Dawson Court-Appointed Special Advocates represent kids' interests
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How to get involved

What: Training for court-appointed special advocates

Where: The Little House, 603 Washington St. SW, Gainesville

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday.

More information at halldawsoncasa.org or 770-531-1964.

The Gainesville organization providing the “eyes and ears of the court” in foster care cases are in serious need of volunteers, executive director Janet Walden said Friday.

Walden, who leads the Hall-Dawson Court-Appointed Special Advocates, said the nonprofit on Washington Street needs 58 volunteers to support the number of kids in foster care.

“In our 27-year history, we’ve always served 100 percent of the kids in foster care. But the number of kids have risen so dramatically,” she said.

Hall County Division of Family and Children Services officials said there are now 245 children in foster care in Hall County. Walden estimated another 25 foster children in Dawson County.

Last year, Hall-Dawson CASA served 640 children.

“In the last years ... we’ve increased 20 percent each year over the last three years. Those numbers are really catching up with us right now,” Walden said.

The advocates provide recommendations in dependency cases, situations relating to where the child lives.

CASAs meet more frequently with the children and spend more time with the adults in the child’s life. Walden said children assisted by a CASA tend to have better outcomes through the court system.

“They’re less likely to languish in foster care,” Walden said. “They’re less likely to repeat and come back into care. They’re more likely to have more court-ordered services provided and have better educational outcomes.”

Training will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday and will continue on Tuesday mornings until March 28. Training will last three hours, and Walden said there is an online component to teach trainees on child development, court procedures and other issues plaguing families in the foster care system.

“As far as volunteer gigs, it’s really a tough one but it’s one of the most rewarding ones that anybody would ever have,” Walden said.

Hall-Dawson CASA is at 603 Washington St. SW in Gainesville. More information is available at halldawsoncasa.org or by calling 770-531-1964.

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