A training program for people willing to volunteer as court advocates for abused and neglected children in East Baton Rouge Parish will begin March 26. To attend a Court Appointed Special Advocate orientation session, visit www.casabr.org/volunteer or call (225) 379-8598.

Male and African-American volunteers are especially valuable in the effort to help abused children reach safe, permanent homes, according to a news release. Of the children whose cases closed in 2018, 88 percent were living in permanent homes at the time of closure.

According to National CASA, a child with a CASA volunteer receives more services and spends less time in foster care. CASA volunteers do not provide legal representation, nor do they replace social workers. They are an independent voice speaking solely for the best interests of the child.

The training course prepares volunteers to be the best advocates with a three-week, 32-hour curriculum that covers topics such as the well-being of the child; trauma, resilience and communication skills; mental health; poverty and professional communication; and substance abuse and cultural competence.

No special background is required to become a CASA volunteer. The first step is to attend a 45-minute orientation session at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave., Baton Rouge.

Orientation dates are:

  • 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16
  • 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.