Kelly Klein has been the Executive Director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of North Sand Mountain since 2017, she handles cases in DeKalb and Jackson counties. CASA was established in 1977 and is a non-profit, national association in the United States. This child advocacy program was designed to look out for the best interest of abused, at-risk, and neglected children through the family court system.
CASA recruits, screens, and trains volunteer advocates from the community to speak on behalf of children in court. The volunteers are everyday citizens who are empowered to become a voice for children in-need in the community. Volunteers are court appointed and their role is to gather information and make recommendations in the best interests of the child.
CASA began when Superior Court Judge David Soukup was faced with making decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children with only the information provided by the state Child Protective Services. Soukup formulated the idea that volunteers could speak for children and fifty volunteers responded to his idea, which started a movement for better representation. According to the National CASA Association, there are more than 93,000 volunteers nationwide. Each year more than a quarter of a million children are assisted through CASA services.
Klein says she went from knowing nothing about foster care to becoming a volunteer advocate, then a director, and also a foster parent along with her husband. When she first became a coordinator of volunteers there were nine volunteers and twenty children. Six months later there was an opening for a program manager, whereupon Klein was placed in the position.
Klein’s desire to help more children skyrocketed the statistics to 30 volunteers helping 60 children within six months. “Just this year we have assisted 182 children,” said Klein. “The qualifications to becoming a volunteer start with compassion, a drive, and a heart. Our volunteers become attached to the children and those involved in the case they are handling.” Klein said some volunteers are retired, but many still work full-time and make the time on weekends and in the evening to checkup on their cases. “It takes a village to raise a child,” said Klein. “We cannot do anything without volunteers.”
After she and her husband raised three of their own children, the Klein’s fostered four more. They went on to adopt those four children, two are now grown and have two remaining to raise which are ages five and seven.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer call 205-478-8389. Also, go online to casaofnorthsandmountain.org or follow on Facebook at CASA of North Sand Mountain.
Kelly’s Motto: “Live like there is no tomorrow.”
— Marla Ballard’s Who's Who appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday editions.