Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Promoting the voices of children and keeping their interests as the primary focus of court cases is what the volunteers of the Court Appointed Special Advocate program strive to accomplish.
The CASA program is a nonprofit state organization that supports volunteers through the provision of leadership, technical assistance, training, and quality assurance.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Jewell and his wife, Staff Sgt. Bailey Jewell, who both work at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, recently made the decision to become CASA volunteers. They represent children in court who have been involved with abuse, neglect or dependency.
As volunteers, they are appointed by the court to speak for the child while in court. CASA’s do not provide legal representation, are not licensed social workers, lawyers, or even affiliated with the child’s parent(s). Their primary responsibilities are to research, facilitate, advocate, and monitor the child. They are required to get to know the child by spending time with them, identify their likes and dislikes, know their hobbies and be aware of their progress in school.
“When I heard about the CASA program and being able to have such an impact on the lives of abused children, I absolutely jumped at the opportunity,” said Staff Sgt. Bailey Jewell.
Becoming a CASA volunteer, also referred to as a Guardian ad Litem, requires that you complete the respective county’s process. In Montgomery County, you must be at least 21 years of age, submit references, go through a screening process and criminal background check, and complete 30 hours of training. In addition, 12 hours of continued education is required each year.
“I also wanted an opportunity to grow in volunteerism while helping to grow the community. Volunteering as a CASA is not like setting-up or tearing down for a charity event,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Jewell.
Last year, 91 CASA program volunteers advocated for 327 children in the court system. Still, the program had to turn away 127 children due to not having enough volunteers. Children range in age from birth through 21.
Volunteers come from many different backgrounds and there are no educational requirements.
They both agreed that once they heard about the opportunity and became volunteers, they wanted to share the same opportunity with the folks at Wright-Patterson.