Why are CASA volunteers needed?
Each year in the United States nearly 400,000 children are abused, neglected, or abandoned by their families. Many of these children also become victims of an over-burdened court system which frequently does not have time to give detailed attention to each child who comes before it.
Routt, Grand and Moffat Counties are not immune to these issues. Each year there are new cases filed with the court and anywhere from 30-90 children are eligible for CASA services each year.
What do CASA volunteers do?
CASAs are “friends of the Court” who are appointed by Judge to provide the Court with information pertaining to the child, including the child’s wishes. CASAs are involved with the court hearings and work with attorneys and social workers. When a CASA volunteer is appointed to a child’s case, he or she is responsible for taking the time to find out as much as possible about that child. They review records, interview parents, talk to teachers, neighbors and, most importantly, the child. CASAs meet with the children for whom they are advocating 2-4 times a month and form a trusting relationship so the CASA can advocate for the child. These volunteers then submit a report to the court with recommendations to support the child’s well being.
Flex Training Module:
15 hours online classroom including discussion boards and 15 hours in person.
Classroom Training Module:
- 30 hours of in person classroom training.
- Homework and self study required for both training modules.
- Training Dates are offered generally each Fall and Spring.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine the next dates.
How important are CASA volunteers?
Perhaps the CASA volunteers’ most important contribution is their regular and close contact with the child. They become a much-needed support for the child, who may be living in an out-of-home placement, and who is overwhelmed by the complexities of the child welfare system. A CASA monitors a child’s case until a permanent plan for the child’s placement is approved by the court. Additionally, local Judges have stated that they find the CASA perspective on a case invaluable and it helps them have a better understanding of what is happening in the case.
What type of training is required?
Once accepted, volunteers are trained in a series of sessions about such subjects as courtroom procedure, the social service and juvenile court systems, and the special needs of children who have been abused and neglected. Pre-service training is a minimum of 32 hours which includes court observation time.
What is the process to becoming a volunteer advocate?
First an application needs to be completed. It is lengthy but it’s important that this is a good match for the volunteer and the children. Once reviewed by CASA staff, the potential volunteer is invited to an interview to further discuss and assess if this volunteer opportunity is a good match for all. After that, the potential volunteer is invited to attend the 32 hour pre-service training. Training is also used by CASA staff as a screening process. Once complete and the fit is good, volunteers are sworn in by the Chief Judge. Once the oath is taken before the Judge, the volunteer is ready to serve children. The volunteer and CASA staff work together to determine if a particular case is a good fit.
Who can become a CASA volunteer?
Potential CASA volunteers are mature and responsible. They can talk to people who are having problems. They have time to commit to the program. They care about children. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. No special experience is required. Volunteers are selected on the basis of their objectivity, competence, and commitment.
How much time does it take?
After initial training, the average involvement by a CASA volunteer is 10 to 12 hours a month. Volunteers are also expected to fulfill 12 hours per year of ongoing training and attend monthly volunteer meetings. Volunteers are asked to make a 12-18 month commitment to the program.
What if I cannot commit that amount of time and want to get involved?
In each county there is a local Outreach Committee, members are “ambassadors” for the program. The OC may be involved with local presentations, public relations and fund-raising. The OC is essential in the success of the program not only in making connections, raising funds but also in helping CASA address the needs of the community. The OC also helps with local events and puts together event committees. CASA also uses volunteers for a variety of tasks from data entry to web or technical support to marketing.