The Maine Court Appointed Special Advocates program will hold its fall training for volunteer advocates Aug. 16-19 in the Augusta area. The four-day training is free. Attendees can learn about all aspects of child advocacy work in order to be certified as a volunteer guardian ad litem for the Maine District Court.

Maine CASAs are community volunteers who are appointed to serve as advocates, called guardians ad litem, for children whose parents are involved in a child protection court case. CASAs conduct an investigation and then advise the judge in writing of what they believe is in the child’s best interest. The foundation of the CASA’s work is getting to know the child so he or she can tell the judge what the child wishes, according to the Maine Judicial Branch’s GAL Services Coordinator Libby McCullum, Esq.

CASAs come from a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds and are guided throughout the process by staff attorneys.

Last year nearly 400 children involved in a child protection court case had a volunteer CASA who served as the child’s voice in court. Right now, there are more foster children than CASA volunteers. Those who have a big heart and are willing to speak up for a Maine child can apply to become a CASA volunteer. No special training is needed to apply other than having a high school diploma or General Educational Development diploma equivalent. People must be older than 21. Along with the application, three references must be provided and individuals must complete a background check that includes disclosing any criminal or child protection history.

For more information, contact Maine CASA Legal Services Advisor Darren Defoe, Esq. at 213-2864, or [email protected].

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