Silence can’t be tolerated.
Abused and neglected children, way too often, don’t have the voice they need to make their lives better.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Marion County are committed to changing that situation.
The goal in the state is “to assure quality volunteer advocacy for every abused/neglected child in the West Virginia court system.”
The national volunteer movement began in 1977, when a Seattle judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. The judge wanted the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children's best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
Getting committed, well-trained volunteers is critical for the success of CASA, and four Marion County residents joined the program last week. Charlotte Anderson, Donna Blaney, Tenille Wyer and Cheryl Wilmoth took their oaths in Marion Circuit Court Judge David R. Janes’ courtroom at the Marion County Courthouse.
Janes appreciates the work of the volunteers.
“You are the voice of the children,” he said. “I rely greatly on you all as well as the other witnesses in the process. I’m a firm believer that when everyone does their job and works independently, then all the pieces will come together.”
Kim Baker, director of CASA, knows how much volunteers are needed.
“There are cases waiting on CASA,” she said. “Unfortunately, in Marion County we do not have enough volunteers for all the cases on the court’s docket.”
Before volunteers with the organization act as the voice of abused and neglected children who are involved in the court system, they go through more than 30 hours of training and several background checks.
Then, once they are sworn in, they receive the cases they will be working on.
Baker said volunteers start by doing an independent assessment of what is in the best interest of the child they are working with.
“That’s what they’re trained to do, to advocate on the behalf of the child in the courtroom,” she said. “They’re the bridge of communication for what the child’s needs are to the other professionals. They’re a support system.”
Volunteers will do everything from talking with the child’s neighbor or teacher to visiting with the child throughout the experience. They will also talk to the child about how they’re feeling and advocate for them.
“They get to know everyone who is involved in the case and talk with everyone involved,” Baker said.
Baker said the benefits of having CASA volunteers working with children is that their only focus is on the particular child.
“The volunteers have made a commitment to that child until he or she has found a permanent living situation,” she said. “Our CASAs only have one case at a time; they’re easily accessible to get that child’s needs met.”
Wilmoth said that she wants to be the voice for children who don’t have one in the court system.
“There are kids whose parents really don’t stand up for or care for them,” she said. “Some don’t advocate for their child, and I felt like I wanted to stand in that gap for kids who need someone to speak out for them.”
Do you want to help children get the assistance they deserve? There are no special educational or professional requirements, but advocates must be 21 years old. CASA of Marion County, located at 112 Adams St., Room 203-A, Fairmont, can be contacted at 304-366-4198 or through email@example.com.
Silence from abused or neglected children in the court system simply can’t be tolerated.
Silence can’t be tolerated.
‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia
Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.
Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.
Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.
‘The issues are complicated’ with e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have been around for about seven years.
But you’d be shocked at how long the idea for the the tobacco-less product has been around.
“A primitive, battery-operated ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was patented as early as 1963 and described in Popular Mechanics in 1965,” Megan McArdle wrote for Business Week last monty.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
- More Opinion Headlines
- ‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia