Prairie Plains CASA was implemented locally in 1995 by Red Willow County Judge Cloyd Clark. The Red Willow County CASA program began training volunteers as special advocates for neglected or abused children in July 1995 and on Aug. 10, nine trained volunteers became special advocates for children. In the first year fifteen CASA volunteers served 17 children from ten families in Red Willow and Furnas Counties.
CASA volunteers are not therapists or Big Brothers-Big Sisters or advocates for the parents. These advocates are specially trained volunteers who work closely with the child, parents, social workers, teachers, health providers and others to determine the best interests of the child. CASA volunteers must be 21 years old, must complete an application which includes a check of criminal and child abuse registries and must express a willingness to serve as a volunteer or “voice for the child” as that child goes through the court system. After volunteers are assigned a case, they interview the children, their parents, teachers, lawyers, social workers and others involved. On the basis of these visits, volunteers then make a written recommendation to the presiding judge. Ten hours per month is the average time spent on each case.
Volunteers in our program include teachers, pastors, school counselors, nurses, college students, probation officers and local employees of financial and business institutions. In addition to advocating for the children, our local CASA program and volunteers have been able to do such things as provide a scholarship to attend a summer camp and tickets to the county fair. We extend a sincere thank you to the many professionals and businesses who have helped with financial support, meeting locations and training.