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Volunteers key to helping abused children removed from homes

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — Kaye Becker of Hastings decided to step up to help abused and neglected children because she knew what it was like. She had a bad childhood herself and could empathize with the children.

“I wanted to make sure other children didn’t have that experience,” she said.

To that end, Becker volunteered to join CASA of South Central Nebraska about 25 years ago.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteers are trained to speak in court for the best interests of abused and neglected children who are removed from the home by child welfare services. A judge in the case can appoint a CASA volunteer to the case and that person provides an unbiased report to help the court make a sound decision about the child’s future.

CASA of South Central Nebraska covers Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.

The Hastings Tribune reports that Becker is the longest standing volunteer at the local agency, having attended the second class of training for volunteers since the program started in Hastings.

“When you think you’ve seen it all, your next case shows you something new,” she said.

RuAnn Root, executive director of CASA of South Central Nebraska, wanted to recognize volunteers like Becker and chose April 9 as CASA Day to spread word about the organization. People supporting the cause will wear shirts to help raise awareness of the agency and its volunteers.

April is National Volunteer Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month, two causes dear to the heart of the organization.

Root said that without volunteers like Becker, the CASA program wouldn’t be possible.

“We just wanted to pick a day to recognize the work our CASAs do to help children,” she said.

Another volunteer, Laura Deininger of Hastings, got involved...

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