Program trains volunteers as advocates for abused children

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    By KRISTIN TENNEY

    Springville Volunteers started a special training program this month to help abused and neglected children as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

    Children who have been removed from their homes and need representation in court will now be assisted by trained volunteers known as Court Appointed Special Advocates.

    The volunteers will help judges make informed decisions about what is best for the child and will assist the Office of the Guardian ad Litem for the Utah Fourth District Juvenile Court.

    “The volunteers make sure the kids don’t fall through the cracks,” said Lisa McDonald, volunteer coordinator for the Fourth District Court.

    “Acting as the eyes and ears for the attorney, Court Appointed Special Advocates ensure that good choices are made in behalf of the children,” McDonald said.

    Peter Clegg, who has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate for two years, said working with the children has been very rewarding.

    “In these situations, any care given to the kids makes a big impact,” Clegg said. “This is one of the few cases where giving a little effort goes a long way.”

    Training classes began March 3 and will run every Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. for eight weeks. All volunteers must be at least 21 years old and have to be available 10 to 15 hours each month for a year.

    The volunteers will also help at the No Hitter Day celebration Saturday April 17 at Provo Towne Center. Cities in Utah County are recognizing No Hitter Day to remind everyone that children should not be hit, that there are alternatives to violence, and there are resources available in the community.

    Court Appointed Special Advocates and other volunteers will be at Provo Towne Center April 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. helping in fingerprinting, entertainment and abuse education booths.

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