Ona New,, retired from a career with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, is continuing her service to families and children as a court-appointed special advocate at Slidell City Court.

“This allows me to continue my efforts to look out for the kids,” she said. “I was a social worker working with these children, and now I’ll be on the other side of the table.”

CASA, a program administered by Youth Service Bureau, serves a vital function in the community. As a court-appointed special advocate, volunteers each work on one child’s case at a time, serving as the child’s advocate in all court proceedings until their case concludes. Applicants must be objective, culturally aware, emotionally stable, diplomatic individuals capable of networking with social service agencies and be willing to undergo extensive criminal background checks, according to Youth Service Bureau CASA Director Ila Dieterich.

Those accepted participate in training to learn how to serve as effective volunteer advocates for quality treatment and services for children in state custody as well as to serve as a child’s voice in court. The minimum age is 21.

“CASA volunteers are the eyes and the ears of the court. They are the only people involved in the child’s case who have absolute purity of purpose. For many children, they are the first champion they’ve ever had in their life,” Judge Jim Lamz said.

To join the next training class for CASA volunteers or for information, call the Youth Service Bureau at (985) 649-4092.