CAJA Adds New Volunteers

Lauren Sims (left), of Albertville, and Keely Smith (right), of Boaz, were sworn in as Court Appointed Juvenile Advocates by Judge John Mastin.

The Court Appointed Juvenile Advocates (CAJA) of Marshall County have two new volunteers.

CAJA of Marshall County Executive Director Lesley Kubik said Lauren Sims, of Albertville, a teacher at Douglas Middle School, and Keely Smith, of Boaz, a pre-law student at Jacksonville State University, both participated in CAJA’s second training class of 2018. She said on Monday, June 25, the two new CAJA volunteers were sworn in by Judge John M. Mastin as CAJA’s following their completion of the 30-hour pre-service training that is required.

Kubik said these new CAJA volunteers have joined CAJA’s network of volunteer advocates that stand up for abused and neglected children, which gives these children a voice in an

overburdened child welfare system that is hard-pressed to meet their individual needs. She said CAJA volunteers are appointed by the court to conduct independent investigations, report their findings and serve as “a child’s voice in court.” She said children assisted by a CAJA volunteer find safe, permanent homes more quickly, are half as likely to re-enter the foster care system and do better in school. She said CAJA volunteers make a profound difference in the lives of the children they serve.

“At CAJA of Marshall County, we believe that working together we can end abuse and neglect so that every child has a chance to thrive,” Kubik said. “CAJA volunteers include everyday citizens, teachers, businesspeople, retirees, and grandparents, who are willing to participate in an in-depth training program, commit to advocate for their assigned child while the case is in the family court system, are able to pass a criminal and Child Protective Services background check. They must also be over the age of 21. We are currently accepting applications for our next training class slated to begin in the Fall.”

Kubik said to visit for more information and to download an application or call the CAJA office at 256-878-1445.

Printed in the Sand Mountain Reporter July 31, 2018