Kathy Bockelman, program coordinator for the Court Appointed Special Advocate program in Moffat County, worked in education for 34 years. She now is organizing the local CASA program, which will train volunteers to act as a child’s voice in court in abuse and neglect cases.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Kathy Bockelman, program coordinator for the Court Appointed Special Advocate program in Moffat County, worked in education for 34 years. She now is organizing the local CASA program, which will train volunteers to act as a child’s voice in court in abuse and neglect cases.

CASA program to advocate for children in court cases

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For more information about the CASA community development committee or becoming a CASA volunteer, call program coordinator Kathy Bockelman at 824-2757.

— As a middle school counselor in the Moffat County School District, Kathy Bockelman said she made reports to social services almost once a week detailing cases of abuse and neglect.

And she knows counselors only see the tip of the iceberg.

After 34 years in education, Bockelman retired and found her new calling as the program coordinator for the fledgling Court Appointed Special Advocate program.

“The more I read ab­o­ut CASA, the more excited I was about it,” Bockelman said. “I’ve always worked with kids and have a passion for helping kids.”

CASA is a nationwide program supported by the federal government that appoints special volunteers to act as a child’s voice in abuse and ne­gl­ect court cases.

CASA volunteers are not attorneys or social service case workers; they usually only work on one case at a time, looking at all aspect’s of the child’s situation to advocate for him or her in the court system.

Bockelman’s job is to organize a community development committee and recruit volunteers, who could begin training as early as March.

Diane Waters, a CASA rural program director based in Denver, said Judge Michael O’Hara requested the program in Moffat County. She said it will be a good fit for the Craig community.

“We’re really excited about being there,” Waters said. “A lot of people bring with them the knowledge of what they’ve seen with kids. They’re not like a mentor; they’re very temporary. Kids know that from day one, but they really do provide that relationship that can change kids’ lives.”

She said CASA volunteers range from retired teachers and nurses to homemakers and prison guards.

The volunteers have to pass a background screening and undergo 30 hours of training, learning how to assess a children’s needs and be their voice in court.

“Volunteers really need to be able to deal with the system, and that can be frustrating, but really they need to have a commitment to kids and the ability not to get too emotionally involved,” Waters said. “They check on how the child is doing with medical care, educational services and making sure they’re doing OK in school.”

She said that in other communities, CASA helps to strengthen existing social services and helps create new services where there is a void.

In Cortez, Waters said one of the CASA clients needed a tutor for advanced calculus.

The child’s CASA volunteer helped find a tutor who offered services for free while helping the student with college applications.

“Every community is so different,” Waters said. “The CASA staff is usually involved in collaborations like the child protection team or the meth project.”

No matter how many volunteers apply, Waters anticipates there will be cases for each of them to work on.

In 2008, Moffat County had 10 cases of abuse and neglect that could have been supported by a CASA worker. In Routt County, which has a larger population, there were eight.

The closest CASA program currently is in Granby, and the new program will serve both Moffat and Routt counties.

Bockelman said there is a clear need for more child social services in Moffat County.

“I think this can offer the individual attention for kids that need it,” she said. “We seem to have more need here than in Steamboat.”

She said she heard from Advocates-Crisis Support Services that they had served 400 to 500 clients with domestic violence issues.

“That’s got to impact our kids,” she said.

Once the program is up and running, Bockelman and Waters agreed it could have lasting effects on the community.

“When kids have a CASA, there’s a lot of research that shows they’re more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to have behavior problems in school,” Waters said. “It’s because they have that one person who’s always there for them. The volunteer gets to be the person the kid sees as someone who’s going to be positive about everything.”

Comments

KidsRpeople2 4 years, 3 months ago

I would like to see CASA advocate for Children's Human Rights in Schools Nationwide. Colorado is one of 20 states that legally allow physical/corporal punishment of children by school employees.

School boards are asking for trouble to sanction practices that are intended to inflict pain.

Research indicates that Physical/Corporal Punishment (the deliberate infliction of physical pain and suffering intended to punish) when administered by school employees by hitting children with WOODEN PADDLES is harmful to children causing anti-social behavior by modeling to them that it is acceptable to solve problems through physical violence and lowers their IQ's due to stress from fear, counterproductive to a safe and healthy learning environment.

People with SPANKING FETISHES work in occupations that give them access to children like hospitals, schools, boy scouts, etc. and over 2,500 teachers were punished in a 5 year period since 2000 for inappropriate sexual relations with our nation's school children, and women teachers are sexually preying on children at an increasingly alarming rate, which is why PHYSICAL/CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS MUST BE ABOLISHED IMMEDIATELY!

Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in schools is ILLEGAL in SCHOOLS in 30 states for a reason. It is ILLEGAL to beat prisoners. Schools are not juvenile detention centers. It was reported that there were nearly 60,000 spankings in Miss. schools last year. Ouch! For the second time in a month, a school district in Leflore County has been hit with a $500,000 (each) lawsuit from a student alleging injuries from a paddling. It was also reported that a state legal adviser, told Bristol, Tennessee Director of School that while school principals who paddled students were legally protected from allegations of assault, they were not immune from accusations of inappropriate or improper touching.

Our nation's most prominent and trusted National Children’s Health and Education Organizations have issued official position statements OPPOSING Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in SCHOOLS including The American Medical Assn (AMA), American Academy of Pediatricians, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Bar Assn, American Humane Assn, American Psychiatric Assn, American Psychological Assn, American Public Health Assn, National Parent Teacher Assn (PTA, National Mental Health Assn and Prevent Child Abuse America among others.

Please demand your local school board governing members, State Governor and Representatives in Congress introduce/support legislation to ABOLISH Corporal Punishment of Children in ALL SCHOOLS, the cost is $0.

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divotdawg 4 years, 3 months ago

You're not going to like what I have to say but it has been MY personal experience along with the experience of thousands of other parents out there who are fighting CPS for custody of their children that CASA and GALs (court-appointed special advocates, CASA; Guardian ad Litem, GAL) are nothing but whores for the states. It is NOT about the best interest of the children. It's not about abuse and/or neglect either. It's about how much money the states can make by removing children, terminating parental rights and having these children adopted out of the foster care program. They get thousands of dollars from ASFA alone, a baseline of $4,000 to $6,000 with many more thousands of dollars for each "special needs" label they can attach to these children. Trust me, EVERY child in the system will be labeled with multiple special needs. ADD and ADHD, autism, emotional problems, depresssion, those are favorites because they're so hard to prove and they can justify their lies. Then they get $30,000 to $150,000 per child/per year from Title IV-E funding, and whatever money they can force bio parents to pay as child support.

CPS agents lie, twist facts, exaggerate and fabricate evidence to use against bio parents. CASA KNOWS they're lying yet they do nothing about it. They pretty much rubber-stamp whatever CPS wants and that's almost always for the rights to be terminated and adopted out.

Not only that, CASA and social workers do not remove the abused children. They're too damaged, too ethnic or not genetically sound or healthy enough to be adopted. Therefore they're left in unsafe homes where they are often beaten, raped, tortured or killed by a family member.

The really horrible thing is foster care. Children are 11 times more likely to be abused; 7 times more likely to be killed, and 28 times more likely to be sexually assaulted while in foster care than in their real homes. One statistic says that 78% of all foster children (both male AND female) are sexually abused while in foster care. The bottom line is that CASA and CPS fails children on ALL levels.

Here's some proof if anyone is interested in the truth about CPS and the family court system. Google these names and you'll find all the documented proof you need to see that CPS is corrupt and out of control. They have brought down CASA/GAL and the foster care system with them. They're just as corrupt, just as out of control. Social workers, CASAs and GALs perjure themselves in court yet there is NO accountability whatsoever. The judges KNOW it's perjury and allows them to get by with it. So please, Google these names...

Children killed under CPS's watchful eye!

Hassani Campbell Danieal Kelly Emma Thompson Marcus Fiesel Gabriel Meyers Haley Gray or Grey Zoey Sanderbox Adrianne and Tyler Payne Krya Zabuh Trymain Peters

Want more proof or information on what to do if CPS becomes involved in your life? Email me at bwalexander3@yahoo.com.

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eieiolrighty 4 years, 3 months ago

I just wished out social services in Craig would actually do THEIR job. They pick and choose who they want to help and it is very frustrating. Our county refuses to do nothing about it. I can't believe we only had 10 cases of child abuse in 2008. If you worked in the schools or with children you would know that there is a heck of a lot more than that. It's just that nothing is being done it.

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norights 4 years, 3 months ago

I have had my dealings with cps they will take whatever lie best suits their needs and unless you can hire a lawyer you are done and have to do what they want. social services in moffat county are just as corrupt as the law enforcement complain and they will make you and your childs life a liveing hell.

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Anitadunnce 4 years, 3 months ago

Response to KidsRpeople2: Where on earth do you get your information? If you are going to write something bizarre such as your claim that corporal punishment and/or violence against children is allowed at school under Colorado law, you must cite the statute! Remember that this is 2010, and not 1910. There are many people who will believe what you wrote without question, simply for the reason that they are seeing the words in print. You are doing a grave disservice to children and to their parents by disseminating such nonsense. If you doubt what I have written, you need only to google information on teachers and paraprofessionals in Colorado who have grabbed a student's arm or duct-taped the mouth of an out-of-control and screaming child. Touching a child or teen in any such manner by school personnel, taping them, tying them up: all such activity is, of course, strictly prohibited. If you doubt that, research the dismissals from school district employment, without prior hearing and without pay, that invariably result.. I really do hope to read a response from you now, KidsRpeople2, because I am so curious about where you got your (mis)information.

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