Children’s Advocacy Network Hosts Open House and Gumbo Lunch

The Children’s Advocacy Network held an open house and gumbo lunch today.  ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey caught up with a volunteer who works with the children they serve.

Wayne Harness is a volunteer with the Children’s Advocacy Network.  He has been working with the program for five years.  He said, “I go to homes and visit the children to check on them to see how they’re doing in the home.  Most of the time I usually just play with them, talk to them, visit with them.  I always loved children.  I work in the children’s program at my church, and I also go visit the other kids, but I always love children.  I love to see how they do when the get older and graduate from high school.”

He encourages anyone to get involved in the program as a volunteer.

“I encourage the new ones to go through the classes.  It’s not that hard to do.  Just find what the dates are and go through the classes. Most of the classes are at night and they go through the program and then they get sworn in by the judge and then you start getting assigned to kids and visit the children.”

The Children’s Advocacy Network held an open house and gumbo lunch where people got to know the staff and the work they do.  Executive Director Kendra Gauthier explains the mission of the network.

“The Children’s Advocacy Network has three main programs.  We administer a CASA program, a therapy program and a forensic interview or child advocacy program.  So, we work with kids who’ve been abused help provide therapy to heal them, and then also work with kids who are in foster care through our CASA program.”

The Children’s Advocacy Network serves about 600 children per year.  At the open house volunteers picked up toys to give to the children from their annual toy drive.

“We had a really incredible toy drive this year.  So, we’ve got lots of toys for all the kids in foster care and in therapy.  A lot of our partners come in and our advocates come in and pick up toys.  They sort of shop for the kids they serve and take these toys back to the kids for Christmas.”

Harness says getting to know the children he works with is fulfilling.

“It’s a blessing to come home knowing that the kids are alright that they’re in good hands with the foster parents.”

The Children’s Advocacy Network has served Central Louisiana for more than 25 years.