Presentation on CASA and Georgia Youth ChalleNGe Programs at Pickens Family Connection Meeting
11/8/2018 ~ by Ali Metcalf, Board Member
On Wednesday, October 10th approximately 25 individuals from various organizations and businesses in our community gathered together at the Pickens County Administrative Building for the Family Connections Collaborative Meeting. The meeting featured two guest speakers, Kerri Henderson of Appalachian Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program and Kianga Lambert of the Georgia Youth ChalleNGe Program.
Henderson shared how Appalachian CASA, an affiliate of Georgia CASA, serves children in foster care with their Court-Appointed Special Advocates which currently consists of 70 CASA volunteers in Pickens, Gilmer and Fannin Counties. There are approximately 94 children in Pickens that have a CASA volunteer assigned to them. There are many foster children without an assigned CASA volunteer due to lack of volunteers in the program. Henderson stated that “outcomes tend to be extremely more positive for children with a CASA.”
The primary goal of this program is to get the foster care children in permanency in the shortest amount of time possible with all of their needs met. Training to become a volunteer CASA requires 30 hours in a classroom setting, 10 hours of courtroom observation and a 2-year commitment. Once trained and sworn in, advocates meet with their assigned child at least once per month. On average, CASA volunteers tend to dedicate around 15-20 hours per month to their assigned children, serving as the “eyes and ears” of the court gathering information from the children and their support systems. More information may be found at appalachiancasa.com and via social media.
Lambert followed with an eye opening presentation about the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. This free, military structured, 5 ½ month program is voluntary for male and female students 16-18 years old that are at risk of dropping out of school. The hope is that through the program they can obtain the education and life skills they need to become productive citizens with sustainable futures. They have a 75% success rate for graduates, and surprisingly only 6% of their graduates actually go into the military. Many of their graduates seek higher education or non-military employment. For more information, please visit www.ngyf.org or call 1.800.278.2233.
All local organizations and businesses with interests in the well-being of Pickens County families and children are invited to attend the monthly Family Connection collaborative meetings which are consistently held the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 8:30 AM in the Pickens County Administrative Building. For more information please contact Jacque Elwarner at 706.253.2319 or visit pickens.gafcp.org.