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Missoula CASA gains volunteers

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Posted at 3:59 PM, Nov 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-25 17:59:49-05

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Missoula swore in 19 new volunteers last month who will help children in foster care navigate the legal system.

Tammy Keck started volunteering in 2015, and says it's made her more understanding, and empathetic.

"They don't get to choose how they're brought up, they don't get to choose their family. They don't get to choose what happened to them in their life," Keck said.

"I think sometimes that is hard to see, maybe how your family compares to what they have in their life, but your role is just to help them find their way and to see success in their future," she added.

Volunteers go through a 30 hour training before they are sworn in by the court. Those taking part in the program are then assigned a case, meet with the child and the family, write court reports, and help make recommendations.

"A lot of times these kids have their attorneys change, their living situations change, their schools change, their social workers change, but if that CASA can be that one consistent person for them, I think that's a great way to advocate for them,” Keck said.

CASA Executive Director Scott Appel says they work with 250 kids and right now, they finally have enough volunteers.

"In the past we just didn't have enough volunteers to represent all the kids that had a need. Just for the first tie we're able to do that, which is a really wonderful position to be in," Appel said.

He says it's a big commitment, and can be emotionally draining, but it's worth it.

"At the end of the day, when you get a kid into a safe and permanent situation and home- I mean, very rewarding."

Appel told MTN News that there's been a decrease in cases the past two years, making it easier to fill the need. But CASA is still looking for more volunteers for next year and will have a training in the spring.

There are currently about 120 CASA volunteers in Missoula.