-By A CASA Volunteer
I am a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and I advocate for abused and neglected children in the foster care system. I am you. I am not an attorney or a social worker or a therapist. I am just someone who cares about children and thinks that a little common sense goes a long way.
I have time. I have stability in my own life. I have flexibility in my job. I am able to communicate well with others. I am passionate about seeing children thrive and reach their potential.
Like you, I was looking to volunteer and stumbled across CASA. I am grateful for that. In CASA I have found a rewarding opportunity to work with children who are in need while experiencing a trying and difficult time in their lives. The system is challenging for everyone involved, but the support of the CASA staff has made the experience one that I have enjoyed and continue look forward to spending my time on. I have made great friends with fellow CASA volunteers, caseworkers and CASA staff over the years I have been a CASA advocate.
Many times, I have thought, "this is it, I'm going to stop volunteering after________." Then I realize if I don't continue, one less child will have a voice and the fleeting thought is gone. For that same reason, if you don't step up and become a volunteer, make the commitment, complete training, find the time, and dedicate yourself, one less child will have the voice needed to find the safe and permanent home they deserve.
Passaic County has over 600 children in foster care each year. Last year only 216 children had the benefit of a CASA advocate. We have set a goal to serve 15% more children this year. With your help we can achieve this.
As a CASA volunteer, you visit the child you are assigned at least once a month and get to know that child. You interview all the parties involved in the child’s case – teachers, doctors, foster parents, therapists, social workers – and write a report based on the information you collect. Don’t worry. You get all the training you need to be able to do this correctly. You are also assigned a Case Supervisor who will supervise and guide you throughout the whole time you are assigned to your child. Most volunteers find this takes in total about 10 hours per month.
As a CASA, your main objective is to act in the best interest of the child at all times. You become the eyes and ears for the judge. Your main concern is not why your child is in the foster care system, but what information the court needs to know to make decisions on behalf of your child and what services need to be provided – a better place to live, therapy for special-needs kids, tutoring in school, ect. – so that your child can thrive and have a stable environment.
So if you have the time, the compassion, the dedication, the common sense, the flexibility, the stability, then we have the volunteer opportunity for you!