Twenty-three volunteers have sworn an oath to the children of Idaho. To be their voice and their advocate, they are now Court Appointed Special Advocates for children.
"In the civil arena, and I'm probably tooting our own horn, It's the most important work that gets done in this courthouse," said Judge Andrew Ellis an Ada County magistrate to the volunteers during their pinning ceremony Thursday.
They're sworn to work for a child's best interests and are assigned to independently investigate cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment. In a sense, they are the eyes and ears for the judge. Kristie Stout is just one of the new unpaid volunteers who completed the thirty-hour pre-service training program.
"This just seemed like a really smooth transition to go from advocating for my own personal kids to kids that don't have anyone to speak for them and be a voice for them," said Kristie Stout a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
This class of Twenty-three students is the largest group Family Advocates has seen in years. They are in desperate need for more advocates for children in Ada, Elmore, Boise, and Valley counties.
"Nothing makes you more heartbroken than not being able to serve a kid because we don't have enough volunteers," said Jaime Hansen Executive Director of Family Advocates.
"in fact, we need another 158 volunteers just in Ada County just to cover the cases today."
Because their volunteer numbers are down, they've had to withdraw from some cases, meaning some children under the age of twelve don't have an advocate on their side. While Kristie is just starting out, she encourages others to get involved.
"I would encourage anyone that has ever had a desire to volunteer or to make a difference in someone's life. This is making a difference in kid's lives," said Stout.
To get involved, click here.