NORMAN — Most volunteers will commit a day or two of their time to support a cause. However, there are a handful in Cleveland County who commit a year or more of their time to help children in the county’s child welfare system.
Cleveland County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers are asked to commit at least a year to a child’s case. The volunteers are assigned a case to help children who are put in the child welfare system because of abuse or neglect.
“I wanted to do something to protect the children that couldn’t protect themselves or didn’t have someone at home to do that for them,” said Andi Wade, a CASA volunteer.
Wade has been a volunteer for Cleveland County’s CASA program for 11 years. She began volunteering in college and continues to help children through the court process. In her time as a volunteer, she has worked on about a dozen cases.
Wade said she has continued volunteering over the years, even when she became a stay-at-home mother, because the work is something that can change the course of a child’s life forever.
“For the first time you are in a situation where you know that if you weren’t there, things would be a lot worse for that child,” she said.
While sometimes it may be frustrating, inconvenient and time consuming, she said that it is something she continues to be passionate about because of the impact it makes.
As a volunteer, she is assigned a case randomly through her supervisor and the judge then appoints it to her. She then visits with the child, attorneys, biological parents or foster parents, teachers, social workers and anyone who is involved in that child’s life.
Through her visits, she learns about the child’s situation and writes a report to the court at least every three months about what direction she thinks is best for the child.