CASA and DHS work together for area kids

William B. Carroll

Representatives with the Clay County Court Appointed Special Advocate program and representatives from the Clay County office of the Mississippi Department of Human Services met in Courtroom #2 behind the Clay County Courthouse Tuesday, to discuss how their respective agencies could work better together.
Clay County CASA Program Coordinator Mary Jean Vance said that the purpose of the meeting was to enhance collaboration between the two groups.
“We are all working together on the same goal, that is to be the voice of the children,” she said.
According to CASA’s website, the mission of CASA is to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children through the development and support of court-sanctioned, community-based programs, which provide trained and supervised volunteers. To that end, CASA conducts various activities throughout the year designed to enhance the services provided by the existing local programs and to develop new programs in counties where CASA programs are desired.
DHS also works with abused and neglected children, and also helps children in other ways, including adoptions, foster families, child support enforcement, and a whole host of other programs including nutritional and family based programs.
Vance, who has been with the CASA program for over 20 years, said the Clay County CASA program is the only one of its kind in Northeast Mississippi. According to Mississippi CASA, there are no other CASA programs in Northeast Mississippi, although there are several in other parts of the state.
Vance told the assembled group that CASA has a rich history in Clay County dating back to an $8,820 grant, which helped to implement the first CASA program in the county in 1990 and the support of Judge Thomas B. Storey. The organization has grown to include nine current volunteers, six of whom were present at Tuesday’s meeting.
Vance said that CASA’s goal is to be the “eyes, ears and voice,” for the children they serve.
See more of this story in today's Daily Times Leader