As pandemic puts added stress on families, CASA sees spike in number of children who need help.
Updated: May 29
By SARA VANDEN BERGE
Lily Hutcheson is the new outreach and development director at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and she is reaching out to the community in search of new volunteers.
“I’m in charge of all of our social media and website and I do all of the recruiting of volunteers,” she told BTS News.
Hutcheson grew up in Eastland and recently graduated from Tarleton State University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and communication studies.
She began her new role at CASA just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to swirl, and since then has seen a spike in the number of cases and children who need help.
“This virus has put a strain on everyone, of course, and our mission is to ensure that abused and neglected children secure a permanent, nurturing environment while working to meet the ongoing needs of the whole child,” Hutcheson said.
CASA executive director Mindy Wooley said the situation has worsened in recent weeks.
“We are in dire need of volunteer advocates,” Wooley said. “Our program experienced an increased number of removals over the past several weeks and we are expecting the number of removals to keep increasing over the summer and into the fall.
“Our advocates have done a great job adapting to the current crisis and they continue to provide excellent advocacy for our program’s children and families. But we simply do not have enough advocates to keep up with the amount of removals we are experiencing.”
CASA currently has 30 active advocates that are working on 45 cases involving 75 children.
Volunteers will receive 30 hours of training and must pass a background check before they are certified as court-appointed advocates.
“This isn’t your typical volunteer work,” Hutcheson said “We require anywhere from 5 to 15 hours a month depending on the case, but all of our advocates are paired with a staff professional who guides them every step of the way.”
For more information, call Hutcheson at 254-434-7583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.