Spotlight on Programs Helping Kids: CASA & LEAPs 21st Cyberchase Step It Up!

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This week on WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, host and Ready To Learn Project manager Cindy Putman is  joined by Darlene Jones, program director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Jones and her second grade grandson, Colton, join Putman as they discuss CASA and the interesting programs that PBS KIDS have that appeal to a second grader.

CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a 501(c)3 organization created in 1977 by a judge in Seattle, WA, after seeing a need for advocates just for children. The program was designed to provide court-based advocacy for abused and neglected children through the use of trained and supervised community volunteers. These volunteers work with authority of the court to be a voice for the rights and needs of these children and for the rights to a safe and permanent home.

The program works with children who are in the court system for cases of neglect and abuse.

CASA volunteers interview everyone involved in the cases. They work to learn about each child’s unique situation and make sure the child gets a say in what happens to him or her.

Nationally CASA is a vital organization working to protect kids.

National CASA is transforming lives of Children, like Jones and her volunteers are in community.

More than 700,000 children experience abuse or neglect each year. Instead of playing with neighbors and making happy family memories, they’re attending court hearings, adjusting to new foster homes and transitioning to new schools. That’s a heavy burden for a child to carry. With a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteer dedicated to their case, America’s most vulnerable children will have someone speaking up for their best interests. With your support, more children will have the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving home. Click here to read more about CASA.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Jones discussed the growing number of cases that CASA works with in Smith, Cumberland, Overton and Putnam counties.

How can you get involved?

If you, like Jones, feel passionate about helping kids in your community, why not consider becoming a CASA volunteer?  Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care. As a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer, you are empowered by the courts to help make this dream a reality. You will not only bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable children, but also their children and generations to come. And in doing so, you will enrich your life as well.

What do CASA volunteers do?

CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act.

Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child's life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.

Who Can Be a Volunteer?

You do not have to be a lawyer or a social worker to be a volunteer. CASA welcomes people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.

You must pass a background check, participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average). Read more about the requirements and role of being a CASA volunteer.

Interested in helping children but not ready to commit to becoming a volunteer advocate? Learn about other volunteer opportunities.

Ready to Stand Up for a Child Who Needs You?

Jones can be reached at 931-520-9542 to answer any question about CASA

Putman also talked with 2nd grader Colton who shares that he and his friends like to play a Wild Kratts game on their Northeast Elementary School computers and he likes to watch Wild Kratts. These great games can be found at

Putman shared with Colton the Cyberchase Step It Up! Initiative that LEAPs and 21st Century Extended Learning programs are doing to increase the steps that students take each day.

The goal of this project is for students to use pedometers each day to track their steps. They log these steps daily and at the end of the week total their steps. They are not competing against other students just against their own step totals. Teachers in the extended learning program are using a Cyberchase Step It Up! Toolkit to teach Math skills, including measurement, distance, and health related problem solving.

Check out Cyberchase at and don’t forget to watch daily on WCTE, weekdays at 3:30! 

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WCTE’s Educational Team can customize workshops or professional development trainings for your group or organization. For workshop information, or to inquire about scheduling a workshop, call 921-528-2222 x. 227 or email us.

Topics are listed below:

  • Using Media as a learning tool
  • Using PBS kids apps to extend learning
  • How to be your child’s first teacher
  • Sesame Street Workshops
  • How does poverty effect a child’s brain
  • Literacy and Math
  • Brain Development

Workshops can be conducted in English and Spanish.