• 70°

CASA of Lexington Expands to Jessamine County, Enabling Residents to Do Something About Child Abuse

SUBMITTED

Residents of Jessamine County can now take direct action to help abused and neglected children in their communities.

Jessamine and Garrard counties now have a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, which enables trained community volunteers to serve as a voice for children in family court. As new volunteers complete training, Family Court Judge Jeff Moss will be able to appoint them to local cases involving abuse and neglect.

“I’m excited to have CASA in the 13th Circuit,” Judge Moss said. “The time CASA volunteers will spend will only benefit the children and families of Garrard and Jessamine Counties. Their trained insight will further assist me in my decision making and will supplement the exceptional work being done by our local Cabinet for Health and Family Services social workers.”

CASA volunteers visit with their assigned children regularly, often getting to know them better than anyone else on the case. They also talk to adults in the children’s lives and review records, then report back to the judge. CASA volunteers help reduce trauma, identify what children need and ultimately help return children to safe, permanent homes faster.

“The expansion into Jessamine and Garrard counties by CASA of Lexington is a huge victory for a large population of children who previously had no CASA services available,” said Melynda Jamison, CASA of Lexington’s Executive Director. “With every community member who goes through training and becomes a CASA volunteer, we are significantly reducing harm for kids today and generations tomorrow.”

Before the expansion was announced, Jessamine County was the largest county in Kentucky without CASA services available, and Nicholasville was the largest city, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. Around 12,800 children live in Jessamine County, and 7,800 of those children live in Nicholasville. The next-largest county without CASA services is Whitley, which has almost 9,200 children. The next- largest city without a CASA program is Campbellsville, which as a population of around 2,400 under 18.

More than 1 in 50 children in Jessamine County suffer abuse or neglect annually, according to an analysis of data from the Department for Community Based Services and the U.S. Census. Jessamine