JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The workload and demands are increasing for one Jackson County organization that serves as a voice for abused and neglected kids in courtrooms. Now, more volunteers and financial help are needed to keep the nonprofit serving the community.
Jackson County Youth Court Judge Sharon Sigalas said it breaks her heart to see children in her courtroom who are living a tough life.
"We have over 250 children in foster care at this moment, but all children love their parents. All children want to be with their parents. These children really don't understand what happened and why they are not with their parents. Even when the abuse happens to them, they still don't understand," said Sigalas.
That's where CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, steps in to support the kids.
"They are like an extra set of eyes, ears and legs that really support foster children and a permanent link," Jackson County CASA Board Vice President Marilyn Montgomery said.
Montgomery says right now, there are 105 volunteers in the county, but that's not enough, especially with 125 children on the roll in need of help.
"If we didn't have a CASA program, a lot of our foster children would be devastated and lost and end up in the court system," said Montgomery
Executive Director Francis Allsup said her staff is ready to sign people up for a training session June 4, but you have to be 21 or older and pass an extensive background check.
"What we look for in a volunteer; just come with your heart, everyday citizens to recruit and train them to be a voice for a child," said Allsup.
If you can't donate time, money is also helpful.
"CASA does struggle financially. We are a nonprofit," Allsup said.
"Everything we do is through grants and donations, and you cannot support this program enough. It is that awesome to this county. You have to be willing to save a child's life," Montgomery said.
If you would like to sign up to become a CASA volunteer or donate money, call the Jackson County office at (228) 762-7370.