The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Child advocates needed in King George
An agency that assists abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system is looking for more volunteers in King George County.
Rappahannock Area CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, has been asked to serve an increasing number of children in King George, said Janet Marshall Watkins, executive director of the nonprofit agency.
The increase isn’t because the number of children in foster care has risen; in fact, the caseload has dropped in recent months, said Dave Coman, director of King George Department of Social Services.
But for more than a year, CASA has been appointed to serve every child placed in foster care in King George because of abuse or neglect.
Judges didn’t always make those appointments in the past, said Nancy Lynn Tierney, court clerk.
But as cases became more complex, Judge David F. Peterson asked that a CASA volunteer be appointed whenever foster-care cases involved parental abuse or neglect, she said.
She’s glad to have CASA volunteers on the team.
“It’s another person who’s involved with the children’s lives,” Tierney said. “Any time that you have an additional person that can get a feel for what’s going on, it benefits the children.”
The number of CASA cases in recent years reflect the growing demand in King George.
According to the agency’s records, CASA served eight children in fiscal year 2010. Two years later, the agency had been appointed to 17 cases, and in fiscal 2013, to 30 of them.
CASA volunteers meet one-on-one with children as well as their caregivers, teachers, doctors and social workers to assess the children’s safety and needs. They provide written recommendations to judges about what’s needed for the children’s well-being.
Volunteers typically are involved with a case for 13.5 months.
“That’s the time it typically takes for a child to be permanently placed in a home after they enter the court system,” Watkins said.
Most of the agency’s volunteers live outside King George, and Watkins said she’d like more workers within the community so they don’t have to drive so far for interviews and court hearings.
CASA is planning a volunteer training session this fall. Those interested can contact the agency at 540/710-6199 or visit its website, rapp
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of children in foster care varies from month to month, but these figures, from the Virginia Department of Social Services, show how many were in foster care in King George County in recent years.
Children are usually placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect, but there are other reasons: parents are in jail, have died or have asked the state to take over their care.
- 30 in 2011
- 20 in 2010
- 32 in 2009
- 29 in 2008
- 22 in 2007