Marshall County CAJA in need of volunteers

Volunteers serve as the voice for children in the court system
WAFF 48's Savannah Sapp reporting
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:20 PM CDT
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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Marshall County’s CAJA (Court Appointed Juvenile Advocate) program is in dire need of volunteers.

According to the program’s website, screened and well-trained CAJA volunteers are appointed by judges in dependency, neglect and abuse cases to provide the court with information about what is in the child’s best interest.

Executive Director Sherry Willis says the program currently has only 16 volunteers in total and over 800 cases so far in 2023. Willis says during cases, advocates are among the closest connection to children who may be victims of neglect or domestic violence.

“Ideally, when CAJA is involved, we are the one constant throughout this whole process. We will know this child from the beginning until permanency is achieved,” Willis said.

According to Willis, volunteers undergo around 30 hours of training before they become advocates. Those wishing to become and advocate do not have to have experience or a degree relating to social work.

“We cover all the aspects that they might encounter when they get a case such as domestic violence, there is a lot of substance abuse. We go through studying the stages of child development,” Willis said.

Willis also says advocates are trained on court proceedings and filing reports to judges. She says the more volunteers step up, the bigger difference the program can make on the community.

“We are volunteers from the community that have a servant’s heart and wants to make a difference in a child’s life,” Willis said.

The only requirements to become a CAJA volunteer is to be 21 years of age, and undergo an extensive background check along with the 30 hours of training. Those who are interested in joining the program can click here.

More information can be found on the Marshall County CAJA website.

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