WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - Neglected and abused children in Stone County will soon have more people helping them and keeping them safe.
The Harrison County branch of CASA - which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates - is expanding its services north into Stone County.
It’s a move that CASA leaders have been working on achieving for many years and one that will greatly assist children in Stone County who have been the victims of abuse and neglect.
“Stone County is a very rural area,” said Harrison County CASA’s Executive Director Jeannie Herrin. “They have a lot of substance abuse problems up there. Right now, they have about 83 kids in the custody of CPS. I believe there is a shortage of CPS social workers up there.”
The Stone County Board of Supervisors, as well as the mayor and Board of Aldermen, will sign an official proclamation next month recognizing the expansion.
CASA of Harrison County is comprised primarily of community-based volunteers who advocate on behalf of neglected and abused children in Harrison County. The volunteers receive special training in order to work with some of the community’s most vulnerable children.
CASA can provide another set of eyes and ears, in addition to CPS and the courts, to make sure children are being cared for properly.
While their primary goal is to help vulnerable children, CASA volunteers often end up helping the entire family, becoming a constant presence in the child and the family’s lives during what can be a stressful and confusing time filled with daunting court procedures.
Advocates encourage parents to obtain high school equivalency diplomas and college degrees, assisted in supervised visits with parents, helped reunite children with their parents, worked with parents to help them get employment and housing, located relatives for permanent place of a child, and assisted with many other things that can help benefit a neglected child in the short and long term.
CASA of Harrison County does not receive state or federal funding and is entirely financed through fundraising events and the privation donations of people and grants.
CASA volunteers are always needed. The next training class for new volunteers begins in September. In order to be an advocate, volunteers must be at least 21 years of age and pass a background and drug screening. To see the other qualifications for volunteering, as well as more information on what a volunteer does, click HERE.
There are over 950 CASA programs spread out across 49 states, all of which are volunteer-driven. To find a CASA branch close to you, click HERE.