Yesterday, the Hon. Ellen Griffith of the Child Protective Court of the Permian Basin swore in Pam Walker and Cara Hamblin as Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children.
Family and friends gathered in the Howard County Courthouse to watch the new advocates take an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of the child. CASA of West Texas serves children from seven West Texas counties including Midland, Glasscock, Martin, Howard, Dawson, Gaines, and Andrews.
After the swearing in Walker and Hamblin will join the other volunteers in advocating for foster children in the Child Protective Court System. As an officer of the court, they will ensure that the children’s needs are recognized and that their best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.
Walker will be assigned a case and will immediately begin advocating for children as a volunteer. Hamblin, recently employed by CASA of West Texas as a Volunteer Case Supervisor, will now advise and support local volunteers in her new role.
CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child regularly and are authorized to interview people in the child’s life such as social workers, attorneys, caretakers and teachers. They attend court hearings with the child and report their findings and recommendations to the judge.
“Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home," said Patty Pisklak, Executive Director of CASA of West Texas. "The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”
“With about 500 children in foster care from the seven counties we serve, there are many more advocates needed,” said Pisklak.
There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 30 hours of training.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA Volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please visit www.CASAwtx.org.
CASA of West Texas is a member of the National CASA Association, a network of more than 900 CASA programs serving children in 49 states and Washington DC.