Claremore Daily Progress

Crime/Courts

April 17, 2014

Tri-County CASA seeks additional volunteers as child abuse cases increase

CLAREMORE —

From 2010-2013, Oklahoma has seen an increase in children entering foster care. According to Oklahoma Department of Human Services reports, approximately 11,000 children are in state’s custody because of child abuse or neglect — 4,000 in the Tulsa area alone and more than 100 in Rogers County.
Judge Dynda Post, who serves Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties in the state’s 12th Judicial District, said with the growing numbers statewide, there is a need for more court appointed special advocates (CASAs), as well as foster families.
The local court appointed special advocate program, Tri-County CASA, serves Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties. Headquartered in Claremore, Tri-County CASA’s mission is to help find a safe, permanent, nurturing home for children as quickly as possible.
“CASA volunteers are the eyes and ears of the court,” said Post. “Each volunteer has a case, and they focus on those children’s needs and write a report. Whether it’s that the child needs glasses, or that they enjoy a particular hobby or sport — it’s the little things that count, and sometimes their needs get lost throughout the court process.”
Post said there have been circumstances when CASA members have found distant family members who were interested in adopting the child, resulting in a permanent safe and healthy home placement
The Tri-County CASA program includes a total of 40 members, with nine members currently in training.
Angela Henderson, Tri-County CASA program director, said volunteers are information gatherers that meet the families, interview the children and provide their reports to the court. 
“We deal with physical, sexual abuse and charges against the parents; but most of the time, there are no charges involved,” said Post. “Overriding reasons for the relocation of a child include drug usage and domestic violence. Those are hard problems to fix because a lot of times it’s generational.”

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