The $1,000 given to the CASA program will be a help, but what they really need is more volunteers.

Sarah Conner, program director, reported to the Marion County Commission on the need for volunteers during the commission meeting Monday morning, at which they also reviewed fund balances and sales tax, heard an update on Bear Creek bridge and heard two sales pitches.

According to Conner, around 215 kids from Marion, Monroe and Ralls counties are in the circuit and being served by the Court Appointed Special Advocate program.

With only about 29 volunteers, each one has quite a few kids they are following through the system.

“We are the only stability most of these kids may have,” Conner said.

She added CASA is getting ready to start a new program, Fostering Future, to help those kids who are “aging out” of the system.

“Our first class will be in Palmyra, and we will be teaching the kids life skills, including how to cook and clean, do laundry and things like that,” said Conner, noting the youths will also be taught job interviewing skills.

The reason for the program is CASA has learned 60 to 80 percent of the kids aging out of the program will become homeless in the first year or back to what they were removed from originally and end up in prison.

The majority of the kids in the program came into the system because they were removed from their homes where often parents have been jailed because of drug use, Conner said.

It is a 30 to 32 hour training course to become a CASA volunteer, she added with the judge swearing you in once you have completed training.

She added those wishing to learn more can contact her at 573-221-3890.

See more county news in this week's Palmyra Spectator.