By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
An area non-profit group that speaks for children in Northeast Georgia, is a special honor.
Recently, the Northeast Georgia CASA Program was awarded the 2014 Established Program Award of Excellence at the Georgia CASA State Conference.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Melissa Mitchell is the Executive Director for the Northeast Georgia CASA chapter based in Toccoa.
She said the chapter was recognized in several areas.
“Serving the number of children we (now) have, we have grown to more than 800 children during the past ten years,” said Mitchell. “Growing the program. We have grown to now include not only the Mountain (Judicial) Circuit, but the Northern Circuit as well. So, we serve about 80 percent of the children in those eight counties.”
The Northeast Georgia chapter of CASA started in 2004 and at the time, served three counties, Stephens, Franklin, and Habersham.
Since then, it has expanded to serve children in five additional counties, including Elbert, Hart, Madison, Oglethorpe and Rabun counties.
Mitchell said the group was also recognized for its work in fundraising, volunteer growth and leadership.
“Certainly, we have done well as far as our volunteers, the numbers we have to serve the children, just the quality of the advocacy that we provide,” said Mitchell. “And the financial stability so that we can serve all those children.”
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children.
The volunteers stay with each case until it’s closed and the child is safe.
For more information on the Northeast Georgia CASA program, call 706-886-1098 or go online to www.negacasa.org.