The first CASA volunteer advocate training in our new Laconia office graduated 6 individuals at the end of October. All Lakes Region natives, they will begin to advocate for children in Belknap County who have come to the attention of the family court system due to abuse or neglect by their parents or caregivers.
These six individuals join more than 500 CASA volunteer advocates who have completed the 40-hour pre-service training that prepares them to voice the best interest of victimized children in court. During training they learn the court process, including court report writing and how to speak in front of a judge. They learn about New Hampshire’s organizational structure for child welfare, including how they will work with the Division of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF). They overview the different types of abuse or neglect and learn how to control their biases when working with families.
CASA volunteer advocates are seen as full party to the case. On top of meeting with the children monthly, they meet with parents, foster parents, school teachers, counselors and any other important adults in the child’s life. This gives them a well rounded view on what the child is going through to relay to the judge about what the best possible outcome can be.
Due to New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic, the number of child abuse and neglect cases has increased marginally over the past two years. Last year, Belknap County had 51 CASA volunteer advocates who served more than 100 children from 66 different families. As cases continue to enter the system, we need more CASA volunteer advocates to speak up for victimized children.
Congratulations and welcome to the following advocates, and thank you for your dedication to New Hampshire’s children! Pictured are: Mary Miller of Moultonborough, Jill Daley-Gibson of Center Tuftonboro, Donna Holmes of Meredith, Nancy Clark of New Boston, Mary Ann Drapcho of Center Sandwich and Paul Galasso of Meredith.