Grand Prairie CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has taken a new approach to the painted rock movement, in hopes to bring awareness to local communities.
Sharon Gault, Board of Director for Grand Prairie CASA said the Carlisle School District art students will be painting and hiding rocks in an effort to bring awareness of CASA to the southern Lonoke County area. CASA Rocks is an interactive activity for people of all ages to help bring attention to the mission of Grand Prairie CASA.
“It was just an idea we came up with to bring awareness about CASA to people in our community,” Gault said.
Gault said she first spoke with the Carlisle School District principal Brad Horn and Art teacher Monica Caviness, who were both very supportive of the idea. She said she also spoke with the art class students about CASA and how they can help.
“These children are thrown into circumstances beyond their control,” Gault said. “
Grand Prairie CASA serves Arkansas, Lonoke, Monroe, and Woodruff Counties. Grand Prairie CASA, formerly known as CASA of Lonoke County, has expanded from a single to a four county district. According to Gault, about a year and half ago, CASA of Lonoke County took in Monroe and Woodruff counties. Six months following, Gault said they took on Arkansas county as well. Due to the expansion of area, the group changed its name to Grand Prairie CASA.
CASA recruits and trains people from within the community to advocate on behalf of children in the courtroom, classroom, and the community. When a child is taken into custody by the Department of Human Services, an advocate is assigned to each child until the case is closed. CASA also acts as a fact finders for juvenile judges by providing them with information gathered from individuals involved in the child’s life, legal documents, social worker’s files, educational, medical, and therapy records. It works directly with the children, family members, school officials, attorney’s, health care providers, and others involved in their lives, then share this information along with their recommendations to the court, so that well-informed decisions can be made regarding the child’s future.
According to Gault reunification is CASA primary goal, whether with parents or other family members.
With the growing number of cases each year, Gault said there is a need for more advocates. She said each advocate by law, can only be assigned to three case. CASA advocates are strictly volunteers.
Anyone interested in becoming a CASA advocate can apply online at www.grandprairiecasa.org. If selected as a potential advocate, Gault said they would then need to take classes, to insure they are up to date on laws. Classes are paid for by Grand Prairie CASA and can be done during the advocates free time. Advocate education is provided by the groups annual crawfish boil held each spring and its Champions for Children’s Dinner held in September.
Grand Prairie CASA would like to encourage others to paint and hide rocks, for CASA awareness. Pictures of painted rocks or found rocks can be shared on the CASA rocks facebook page.
For more information about CASA’s work with abused and neglected children, visit www.grandprairiecasa.org or contact CASA Director Delyce Palik at 501-676-6533.