Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Bradley and Polk Counties has gained four new advocates that will serve as the voice of children in court. CASA is a nonprofit that works with trained community volunteers to advocate for children that are involved in the court system due to concerns of abuse and neglect.
Each advocate completed 30 hours of training. Upon completion of their training, they were sworn in by Magistrate Ashley Ivey at the Juvenile Justice Center. These new advocates are Mia Chedalavada, Jessica Brown, Callie Brainerd, and Courtney Lieber.
“Being sworn in was exciting, and empowering – it encouraged me that as an advocate, I really do have the opportunity and power to make a positive impact in the lives of members of our community,” said Brainerd. “I am most excited about building relationships with the children and speaking on behalf of those who can often be overlooked.”
Lieber shared that, “It was great getting sworn in because I’m excited to start advocating. We spent over 6 weeks in training, so it will be nice to apply everything we’ve learned. It’s a privilege to be able to serve the community but I also realize that there’s a great deal of responsibility that comes along with advocating.”
As an advocate, the volunteers will get to know the children they are advocating for on a personal level. They will also talk with all parties involved in the court case. With the information, they gather they will submit a fact-based report in the best interest of the child to the judge. This report helps to give the judge a complete picture of what is going on in the child’s life.
“CASA is grateful for the willingness and commitment of these new advocates to serve our community,” expressed Natalie Barrionuevo, Advocate Manager. “Each additional advocate helps to provide a consistent presence for a child during a very difficult time in their life.
Photo: Advocate Mia Chedalavada, Advocate Manager Natalie Barrionuevo, Magistrate Ashley Ivey, Advocate Supervisor Jessica Brown, Advocate Callie Brainerd, and Advocate Courtney Lieber & Her Child.