Who speaks for the children?
In the case of children navigating the labyrinth of the judiciary, 11 adult advocates recently were authorized by Cole County's court system to advance a child's best interests.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is an organization that seeks and trains volunteers to represent children in judicial proceedings. Volunteers train for 40 hours during a 10-week period.
After being sworn in by the court, each advocate is paired with a child. The volunteer advocate also may meet with parents, other family members, friends, teachers and other parties to recommend a resolution compatible with the child's best interests.
The volunteers who took their oaths earlier this week represent the first CASA group in Cole County's judicial circuit. They have joined about 1,200 peers throughout the state.
CASA, supported locally by the Kiwanis Club, will begin training its next group of volunteers in March.
People interested in joining the group or receiving additional information may call Jim Kellerman, executive director of Capital City CASA, at 635-7524.
The courts are designed as a venue where conflicts are resolved in a fair, judicious manner.
But court proceedings frequently are both complex and confounding, particularly for children who may become entangled and manipulated.
CASA provides those children with advocates, trained volunteers capable of comprehensive research and sincere support.
We commend the Capital City's special advocates for their commitment, and encourage like-minded volunteers to follow their example.