The umbrella for the Court Appointed Special Advocates inches ever closer to Trigg County. And its timing couldn’t be more needed.
This was the message from Stephanie Moss, program director for CASA of West Kentucky, during Tuesday’s weekly meeting of the Cadiz Rotary Club — in what was a pitch for locals to heed a calling, and provide support for a volunteer organization that specifically targets the “complex trauma” and ensuing litigation often involved with child abuse and neglect in local homes.
Just one District Judge Jamus Redd signature away from authorizing its arrival to the county, Moss said the goal is to not only have some Trigg County residents sign up for the 30 hours of intricate training, but to also snag someone locally to join the non-profit organization’s board — which meets weekly at the Child Watch office on Jefferson Street in Paducah, and has representatives from the service region of McCracken, Ballard, Livingston, Lyon and Caldwell counties.
Moss said 54 children went through Trigg County’s court system in 2020 alone, and that those children — and their case workers — need another pair of eyes to help judges make thoughtful, accurate rulings for families and kids.
It’s been widely reported across the country that COVID-19 has played a significant role in the increase of domestic violence, drug and assorted criminal charges within families — and that quarantines, virtual schooling and limited access to the public have only exacerbated family tensions, and made the job of CASA volunteers, social workers and judges that much more difficult.
Moss said this is no different at the local level.
Redd, who was in attendance during Tuesday’s Rotary meeting, said while the role of attorneys and social workers tends to be more adversarial with families and caregivers, the part a CASA volunteer can play brings positive reinforcement to the children — who so often in these circumstances may not have a singular adult they can trust.
Redd also stated that from January-May 2021, more than 170 felonies were charged and an indictment for methamphetamine cases were delivered an average one every 72 hours.
Already, Moss said expansion CASA’s west Kentucky umbrella has reached Caldwell County, and a training office will soon open at the Lyon County courthouse. Volunteer hours typically average to roughly five hours a month, and can sometimes involve house calls and trial attendance.
Couples, Moss said, are strongly encouraged to volunteer — in order to share workloads, craft ideas and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to families who often have multiple siblings experiencing the same troubles.
For more information about becoming a volunteer, or board member, visit childwatchcac.org, or call (270) 443-1440.