CASA welcomes eight new child advocates

Judge Randy Shelton swears in new advocates Misty Arnaud, Carol Hammonds, Mathew

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southeast Texas (CASA) welcomed eight new volunteers this month.

Travis Guillory, Mathew McBee, Krystle Muller, Brittany Miller, Carol Hammonds, Brent Franks, Jon Deckert and Misty Arnaud were sworn into their new roles as child advocates by Judge Randy Shelton in his courtroom at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Friday, July 17.

Appointed by judges, CASA volunteers are trusted to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. After completing over 30 hours of training, each new volunteer will now be assigned his or her first case to work on, helping to ensure that better, more informed decisions are made concerning the life of a child they will serve.

When volunteers begin a new case, their first and often most time-consuming task is gathering information. Advocates are provided with resources through CASA to help with navigating court documents and records as they thoroughly review the material. This is also when initial interviews with the child, family members, teachers and other professionals in the child’s life take place.

Advocates are also expected to appear in court, provide testimony when necessary, contribute written reports at hearings, monitor the case plans and court orders, keep the court informed, and in some cases, recommend professional services for the child.

Perhaps the most important responsibility as a child advocate is to “be the glue” that holds things together throughout court proceedings by communicating openly with people in the child’s life, and above all, communicating openly with the child at the center of it all.

CASA of Southeast Texas serves over 350 local children each year. For more information about CASA, call (409) 832-2272 or visit www.casasetx.org.

— Lucy Biebel

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