AUGUSTA — Interested in speaking up for a Maine foster child? The Maine Court Appointed Special Advocates Program is holding its spring training for volunteer advocates March 3-6 in the Augusta area.

The four-day training is free. Attendees learn about all aspects of child advocacy work in order to be certified as a volunteer guardian ad litem for the Maine District Court.

Maine CASAs are community volunteers who are appointed to serve as advocates, called guardians ad litem, for children whose parents are involved in a child protection court case. CASAs conduct an investigation and then advise the judge in writing of what they believe is in the child’s best interest. The foundation of the CASA’s work is getting to know the child so they can tell the judge what the child wishes, according to the Maine Judicial Branch’s GAL Coordinator Libby McCullum, Esq.

CASAs come from a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds and are guided throughout the process by staff attorneys. CASAs each bring a unique perspective from their own life and community to their work as a volunteer.

Last year almost 500 children involved in a child protection court case had a volunteer CASA who served as the child’s voice in court. Right now there are more foster children than CASA volunteers.

Volunteers do not need any special training to apply other than having a high school diploma or GED equivalent. They must be over 21. Along with the application they need to provide three references and must complete a background check that includes disclosing any criminal or child protection history.

Find out more about the Maine CASA Program by visiting www.casaofmaine.org or the Facebook page at Maine CASA.

For more information about becoming a volunteer, contact Maine CASA Program Volunteer Coordinator Tracy Leigh, Esq. at 287-5829 or email [email protected]