Local children’s non-profit looking to increase advocates for neglected and abused children

By Ashni Gandhi, Staff writer

“CASA provides volunteer advocates and legal representatives for kids that are abused and neglected,” said Rush Record, executive director for the CASA initiative.

They currently represent and advocate for nearly 400 children up to the age of 18 in Champaign County.

With new training starting up, CASA needs more advocates to support the children in their program, he said.

“Our numbers are really high in Champaign county,” he said. “Advocates work side-by-side with social service agencies to make sure that a kid’s well-being is being meshed with the services.”

According to a press release, CASA is holding spring training for advocates interested in helping the cause. The amount of advocates needed results from an increase of children in the program.

Advocates must pass a background check, be 21 years old and complete a 30-hour training program that starts April 19 and will be held at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. This training session will end May 11.

After the initial training, no experience is really necessary.

“We give everybody the tools they need to be a quality advocate,” Record said.

If interested, the application is due by April 15 along with a required background check.

CASA was established in Champaign in 1994, and it became the guardian ad litem for all neglected children starting in 2004. It is part of the National CASA Association and earned the certificate of compliance through its years.

“We are always looking for more advocates to work on these cases because we have so many kids in the system,” Record said.

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