Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) is looking for local volunteers to serve as advocates to abused and neglected children in northeastern Oklahoma.

“Child abuse is a problem that affects all our communities,” said Linda Polson, CANO marketing coordinator. “According to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, more than 15,000 cases of child abuse were reported in Oklahoma in 2016.

“When a child suffers, we all suffer; however, together we can work to end the pain,” she said.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are trained volunteers who work with children who have been placed in foster care due to allegations of abuse or neglect. These volunteers gather information from the children and all persons associated with the child – from their social workers and attorneys to their family members and medical personnel.

The CASA volunteer then prepares a report to provide the judge with critical information regarding the child’s home environment, health, and general well-being. Their “superhero” efforts help ensure that these children have a voice in the juvenile court system and that they are placed in a safe, secure, and loving home.

“With the ever-growing number of child abuse cases, more CASA volunteers are needed,” Polson said. “If you want to do something to help end the pain and suffering of child abuse and neglect, then here’s an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children.”

CASA training classes are being offered in Pryor from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on four Mondays this fall — Oct. 16, 23, 30 and Nov. 6. Classes will be held in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Mayes County Courthouse, which is located at 1 Courthouse Place in Pryor.

“CASA welcomes people from all walks of life — we just need people who care about children and have good critical thinking skills,” Polson said. “All volunteers are thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help them through each case.”

No special educational or social work background is required, but a CASA Volunteer must be at least 21, pass a background check, participate in the 30-hour pre-service training course, and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average).

People interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer or who are ready to sign up for CASA training classes can contact Gayle Hanson, Training Coordinator.

Call Gayle at 785-623-6955 or 918-923-4570 or email her at gayle@cano-casa.com.

Additional information about CASA may be found on the CANO website: http://cano-casa.com/volunteer.

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