A York County group is looking for people interested in volunteering to help at-risk children.
The organization, Court Appointed Special Advocates, will hold an information session 6 p.m. Thursday in the third-floor conference room of the York County Judicial Center for anyone interested in joining the program.
The group needs volunteers to represent children who are victims of abuse or neglect in dependency court, where a judge decides the child's living situation, including whether the child will become a ward of the state.
"Our purpose is to give a voice to the voiceless," said Andrew Myers, the group's community outreach and educational facilitator.
The information session will include a presentation on child abuse in York County, talks from current volunteers and staff and information about the application and training process.
Training: Volunteers don't need any previous legal experience. Court Appointed Special Advocates provides an eight-week training session that consists of two classes a week to prepare volunteers. One such training session will begin Thursday, Sept. 11, Myers said.
"We look for people from all walks of life," he said. "All we require is the desire to give children the best situations possible."
The volunteers will need to devote 10 to 15 hours each month to their those duties, Myers said.
Myers said a volunteer will have three main roles — as a fact finder for the judge, as a courtroom advocate for the child and as an overseer for the case, making sure the child's best interests are represented.
"Our volunteers get assigned to the most delicate cases," he said, like those involving abuse or neglect.
Background: Court Appointed Special Advocates is a national organization and has had a program in York County since 1987.
The program has 36 volunteers and represented 91 children over the past year. Myers said more than 400 children are in dependency proceedings right now.
"So we are well short of representing all the children who need it," he said.
Anyone 21 or older who is interested in applying to volunteer or attending the info session should email Andrew Myers at ADMyers@YorkCountyPA.gov or call him at 771-9754.
— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at firstname.lastname@example.org.