Volunteers getting sworn in, need for advocates for local abused and neglected children continues

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

BEAUMONT — For children in the foster care system, having an advocate in their corner is important, especially in cases of abuse and neglect.

Shadye Nolan-Vaughns saw this up close and personal when she volunteered with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southeast Texas while at Lamar University working on a degree in social work.

She is now working as a training coordinator with CASA helping volunteers.

Judge Gordan Friesz, left, Sally Broussard, Aerod Wyre, Ja’Naya Bob, Allison Mobley, Hope Freeman, Princess Johnson, Lanicia Harris, Susan Truss, Latosha Wilson, Lucy Pulido, and Bret Howard are seen in this photograph of newly sworn in CASA volunteers and staff. (Courtesy photo)

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Next week several people will swear an oath to represent a foster child’s best interest in cases of abuse and neglect.

Judge Gordan Friesz of the 317th District Court is officiating the swearing in of CASA volunteers at 11 a.m. Tuesday for the individuals who have completed more than 30 hours of training.

Nolan-Vaughns understands what some of the children are going through and that having someone in her life made things easier for her.

She understands the connection between the child and volunteer.

CASA is a non-profit that recruits, trains and supervises a diverse community of volunteers, she said. The non-governmental agency advocates for the abused and neglected children in the pursuit of safe, permanent homes.

Even though there is the upcoming swearing in of volunteers, there remains a need for more advocates for children. There are 176 children in the Jefferson County system that CASA is involved with.

And just like the children who come from all walks of life, CASA seeks to have a diverse group of volunteers.

“Anyone can be in the system, all walks of life,” Nolan-Vaughns said, and volunteers can be “anyone with a heart who cares.”

Nolan-Vaughns said the sworn volunteer advocates meet with a child monthly who has been abused or neglected, meets with the child’s caregiver, attorney, teachers and those who are part of the child’s life. They compile a report and advocate for the child in court to make sure the child’s needs are met for the best of the child and family.

“You become their constant,” Nolan-Vaughns said. “You are there to make sure this child’s best interests are not overlooked.”

For more information on CASA or how to become a volunteer, go to casasetx.org or call 409-832-2272.