COOS BAY — Marshall Pease said he didn’t have much to do, so volunteering seemed like a good idea.
“I had some time on my hands and it looked like an opportunity to serve,” Pease said.
He recently completed training and was appointed by a judge to be a court appointed special advocate, or CASA.
CASAs help children who are going through the court system because of abuse, neglect or other reasons. Advocates go to court with the child, review the child’s records, and basically follow every aspect of the child’s life.
In 2011, the Oregon Department of Human Resources reported 763 cases of child abuse or neglect in Coos County. Of those, 190 were founded, 385 were unfounded, 147 were unable to be determined and 41 were closed. DHS reported 32,328 cases of child abuse or neglect statewide in 2011. Of those, 7,492 were founded, 16,077 were unfounded, 5,660 were unable to be determined and 3,099 were closed.
Twila Veysey, coordinator for CASA, said she only has 41 advocates. She said 199 children didn’t get advocates last year. Case workers get 20 to 30 kids and don’t have the time to provide personalized care.
“If I had 100 volunteers, I think we’d serve every kid easily,” Veysey said.
Veysey said only two or three children are assigned to every advocate, so they can provide better care.
To be an advocate Pease completed training that took place once a week for six weeks — 30 hours in all. Advocates also must follow guidelines and attend in-service training, as well as receive direct supervision from program staff, Veysey said.
CASAs must keep all information confidential, Veysey said. They also must complete a review of each case report it to the court and monitor the child.
Pease, a retired computer programmer from California said being a CASA didn’t require any specific professional background.
“There’s no specific requirements for it,” Pease said. “You need common sense as far as the needs of the child go. You need a desire to do what’s best for the kids.”
Pease has two grown children and two grandchildren.
“I certainly think about my grandkids in these situations,” Pease said.
Reporter Emily Thornton can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @EmilyK_Thornton.