by Donna McBride, Pinal County Juvenile Court Program Administrator II
CASA of Pinal County is affiliated with CASA of Arizona and the National CASA Association, which is a network of almost 1,000 programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes.
Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.
In January 1989, CASA of Pinal County began its journey to help our county’s most vulnerable children who have been removed from their homes due to neglect and abuse. As part of Pinal County Juvenile Court Services, we are still going strong in our journey to advocate on their behalf.
Statically, we have much to be proud of:
- 445 volunteer advocates have volunteered with our program.
- Advocates have served 2,413 children in Pinal County.
- They have volunteered over 103,150 hours.
- They have traveled approximately 960,545 miles to court, visits, mentoring, etc.
Our advocates and staff alike can remember the outcomes of most every case. These cases are not numbers on file folder. They are faces of children, human beings. These faces are embedded in our minds and hearts. Some had happy outcomes of reunification or adoption while others remained in foster care until they aged out of the system. And yes, some haunt us today by their loss of life.
In those 34 years, the magnitude of those we served has been eye opening. Juvenile Court Director Denise Smith was a young probation officer when CASA began. “Starting in 1989 we had one coordinator, a part-time secretary and five energetic volunteers. We now have a unit with a supervisor, four coordinators and two administrative assistants.”
Smith phrased our volunteers: “We realize the work of our CASA advocates is greatly needed and we will continue to move forward to find solutions that will result in safety for children and safe communities.”
Volunteers are everyday citizens who our Presiding Judge appoints to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who are victims of parental abuse and neglect. They stand up for these children and change their lives.
All volunteers must complete a 30-hour, pre-service training. The time commitment to a case varies depending upon the stage of the case. Volunteers sometimes say there is a greater amount of work in the beginning of the case when they are conducting their initial research. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 15 hours a month on a case.
Celebrate with us as we continue our journey to change lives and help “our kids” in Pinal County. Volunteers are always needed. Find out how you can help change the lives of “our children” in Pinal County by contacting us at 520.866.7076 or www.azcourts.gov/casaofpinalcounty.
CASA of Pinal County Staff
Pam Burke, Coordinator
Lisa Madrid-Schleicher, Coordinator
Michelle Tarango, Coordinator
Amanda Lairmore, Coordinator
Tane’ Inurriaga, Administrative Assistant Lead
Jodi Wheeler, Administrative Assistant