Helping Abused Children Across Anderson County and Beyond

Laura Guerrant

Laura Guerrant

Abused and neglected children are helped in Anderson and other counties by a group of passionate volunteers meant to give these children something permanent to hold on to as they enter the child welfare system.  CASA of the Bluegrass volunteers not only stay with a child until their case is finished but also help give family courts another set of eyes and ears during the entire process.

CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a program made of specially trained volunteers who work alongside family court judges, lawyers, and social workers. “We’re just everyday citizens who decided to have this grassroots effort to take back our community’s children and ensure that every child that we serve has a safe and permanent home,” Laura Guerrant, executive director of CASA of the Bluegrass, said.

Laura explained, that after a rigorous thirty hours of training that covers many topics including child development, law, family court system, education, medical and more, volunteers are assigned children entering the welfare/foster parent system.  They then interview both the biological and foster parents, talk with teachers, medical professionals, therapists, and of course spend time with the child to give the family court judge a wider picture of how the child is doing and what is happening.

The volunteers also spend considerable time with the child, seeing how they are coping with all the major changes that have occurred in their life.  The volunteer becomes something permanent in their life of many changes.  They also help recommend things that a child may need.

CASA volunteers have helped children significantly during this process.  According to Laura, children with a CASA volunteer are more likely to be adopted, spend less time in family court and in the social welfare system, more likely to receive targeted medical, educational, and therapeutic services, less likely to reenter the system, and less likely to abuse their own children when they grow up.

But Laura said that not every abused or neglected child gets a CASA volunteer.  The program has a waiting list, with the limitation being the number of available volunteers.  In Anderson County alone, the program helps 75-100 children a year, and across the four counties that CASA of the Bluegrass serves, which includes Mercer, Franklin, and Boyle Counties in addition to Anderson County, they serve 400 children a year. “If you can imagine in our little rural central Kentucky area, we’re serving enough children to fill an elementary school,” Laura said.

The need for volunteers is very large, especially with the increase of the drug epidemic.  Laura said that anyone over 21 years old, who has a driver’s license and can pass state and federal background checks, can apply to be a volunteer at their website.  They will be starting the next volunteer training class on September 13th which will be two nights a week for 5 weeks.  Check their website for more information.

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Posted in Family & Community, Health & Fitness.

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