Court Appointed Special Advocate ( CASA) of Hidalgo County, a non-profit organization plays a unique and vital role in the community, will offer training for new volunteers starting February 2, 2009.

Court Appointed Special Advocates are trained community volunteers who are appointed by a state court judge to speak for the best interest of abused and neglected children who are brought before the courts.

CASA’s primary goal is to serve as fact finders for the judge by researching each assigned case, to ensure for each a safe, permanent, stable home and to shorten the time each child spends in the foster care system. In their role as the child’s advocate, volunteers make contact with the family members, medical personnel, witnesses, district attorney’s, attorney ad litems, law enforcement personnel and any others who have had involvement in the child’s case.

The advocate then makes a recommendation to the judge as to how best to meet the child’s best interest. Additionally, the individual advocates for and monitors the children in foster homes or temporary relative placements.

Advocates also provide more detailed information to judges in written reports, verbal testimony, overall case assessment, and appropriate recommendations.

An orientation date has been scheduled for persons who are interested in learning more about becoming an advocate. Orientation will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 2 and 6 p.m. CASA location is 1001 South 10th Ave., Edinburg, TX 78539. Call Ruth Garcia at 381-HOLD to schedule an appointment or for information.