Social Engagement: High
What’s What: Your advice can literally change a child’s life! Court appointed child advocates get to know a child and then appear in court to help a judge decide what is best for that child.
Amava Take: All kids need someone looking out for them but sadly some kids don’t have anyone to do that. That’s where you come in! As a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) you get to know an abused or neglected child and use the information you have to advocate for the child. You’ll help a judge figure out things like the best home for that child or whether the child is receiving enough support from the child welfare system. If you love children and are willing to invest some time to help a child thrive, you can be an excellent CASA. You don’t need to know anything about the child welfare system to apply. Once accepted to a CASA program, you will be given training before you meet the child you will work with.
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?
People that like to work with children who can advocate for a child in a courtroom setting and can make a time commitment of at least a year.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Get to know the child by talking to as many people who know him/her as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
How long does a typical CASA work with a child?
The amount of time can vary but typically at least a year to 18 months and sometimes longer. The weekly time commitment can vary. Typically the weekly time commitment is greater in the beginning when you are getting to know the child and not as great in the later months.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the job?
Seeing a child end up in a healthy, wholesome situation.
How would you describe the hard parts?
Witnessing some of the difficulties that young children face because of forces that they have to power to effect.
What’s the most memorable experience you had as a CASA?
It was a smile and a hug that will stay with me always.
Special Requirements: No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. You must pass a background check, participate in a 30-hour training course, be available for court appearances, and agree to stay with a child until their case is closed (a year and a half on average). Most programs ask that you are able to serve at least one year.
Finding a Position: Go to the National CASA Association and search by zip or county for volunteer options in your local area. Most counties in the U.S. have a CASA program. (Example: search “CASA” and “Contra Costa” to get to CASA of Contra Costa County. This article explains more about what a CASA volunteer does and this article details some of the skills necessary. Check here for other child advocacy volunteer positions.