CASA for Kids Seeking Advocates for Children in Foster Care

Organization holding an informational meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday evening in Kalispell

By Myers Reece

Flathead Valley CASA for Kids is holding an informational meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday for people interested in learning more about the organization and how to become an advocate for a child in foster care.

The meeting will be held at CASA’s office at 1203 Highway 2 West, Suite 37 in Kalispell’s Gateway West Mall. It will also be an opportunity to meet CASA advocates and program staff.

The mission of CASA for Kids is to “recruit, train and support volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children,” with the overarching vision to “end child abuse and neglect.”

“Every day children are abused and neglected,” CASA states in a press release. “Last year, 294 children were involved in Flathead County’s 11th Judicial District Court system through no fault of their own. These children are typically referred to as foster children.”

CASA, which stands for “Court Appointed Special Advocates,” matches foster children with advocates, “who will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family.” An advocate serves as the child’s guardian ad litem and ensures that the “child’s needs and best interests are heard in the court system.”

Applicants to become an advocate must be at least 21 years old and be able to pass both criminal and CPS background checks. They also need to complete 50 hours of training, make a commitment to remain with their assigned child for the duration of the child’s case and be willing to work with a team of professionals for the child’s best interest.

“A qualified volunteer will have excellent written and oral communication skills, basic computer skills, a willingness to work with a team, and most important, a heart for children,” CASA states.

Applications must be submitted by March 22. Application packets are available at the March 15 informational session or can be requested by calling or emailing the CASA office. Training begins April 5.

For more information, call CASA’s office at (406) 755-7208 or email Daniel Verardo at [email protected].