COLORADO SPRINGS — National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that supports abused and neglected children within the justice system.

CASA helps children in the family court system and child welfare system by pairing them with a CASA volunteer.

“We have 18 programs in Colorado and across all of those programs we have close to 2,000 volunteers,” said Keri Kahn, Communications Manger for CASA of the Pikes Peak Region. “Here in the Pikes Peak region, we serve El Paso County and Teller County, and in our region we have 350 volunteers who are doing this work.”

According to CASA of Pikes Peak Region, volunteers help advocate for the child’s best interest in court and help build relationships with the child through regular visits.

“Having that one consistent adult helps them to build resilience,” stated Kahn. “It helps them to build confidence, and it helps them to break the cycle of abuse and violence that will often run generationally through families.” 

On Tuesday, 13 CASA volunteers were sworn in at the El Paso County Courthouse by Fourth Judicial District Judge William Bain.

The new CASA volunteers included Ronald Bickers, Susan Butler, Stacie Conner, Lori Daniels, Joyce Donnelly-Murphy, Taylor Fay, Brianna Garcia-Decime, Shaunna Patterson, Yolanda Saunders, Betty Snyder, Kathi Tesarz, Lisa Volz, and Young-Kun Yu.

“They’re going to take an oath before a judge and then they are eligible to take your case and advocate for children who are involved with the court system and the child welfare system because of abuse or neglect,” said Kahn.

One volunteer, Stacie Conner, said she wanted to give back to the community and help children in these tough times.

“My husband and I were both foster parents at one point, and now that I’m retired, I decided I wanted to give back and be the continue to be the voice of children,” said Conner.

Each volunteer must apply online, interview and participate in 30 hours of training before being sworn in.

“The 30 hours of training was probably one of the best series of training that I’ve ever received in my life,” said Young-Kun Yu, Volunteer, CASA of Pikes Peak Region. “It was exceptionally thorough.” 

The training case Yu was interested in focused on kids aging out of foster care.

“The training concentrated on this type of trauma, the types of challenges that this particular population runs into, and most especially how we can try and form and shape them to get better outcomes,” said Yu. “Statistically, this population does not have the best outcomes.”

Kahn said CASA of the Pikes Peak Region is in need of more volunteers.

“We expect there are about 800 kids just here in the Pikes Peak region who need a CASA,” said Kahn. “The good news is that over the last 12 months we were able to provide 625 children with a volunteer, but there’s still a gap that we’d like to close.”

There is an upcoming volunteer information session on September 7. Click here to RSVP to the one-hour session and learn more about volunteering at CASA.