It takes a special individual to become a CASA volunteer. First and foremost, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers need to be passionately dedicated to helping children who have been abused or neglected. CASA volunteers need to be tireless advocates on behalf of their children. They need to consider what’s best for the child, investigate and accurately communicate the child’s conditions to a judge, as they work to make the child’s experience in the court system safe, efficient and quick as possible.
CASA volunteers need to be willing to dedicate 37 hours to pre-service training and commit to seeing their cases through to the final resolution of a safe and permanent home for the child(ren) involved. A CASA volunteer must be compassionate and objective. Often the CASA volunteer is the most consistent adult in the child’s life.
If you would like to become a CASA (Court Appointment Special Advocate) volunteer, serving children in Talbot, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties and require more information contact CASA of the Mid-Shore at 410-822-2866 ex. 6 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a closer look at a CASA volunteer, Hanna Woicke.
Hanna shares her favorite CASA story.
My favorite story started very early on with one special child. We agreed to meet and it was decided between us that I would pick her up at a certain time and place to go out and get ice cream together. The big day arrived and I drove to our meeting place about five minutes early. I waited and waited. After 45 minutes had passed, I decided it was not going to happen. When we finally connected, she seemed genuinely surprised that I was concerned about what happened and questioning where she had been. Her response was “I never knew you would actually show up.” Until this moment, I hadn’t realized that due to the constant disappointment of being let down over and over again, the kids we serve do not have trust or have faith in anyone.
What is your advice to someone who wants to become a CASA volunteer?
I strongly advise that one never take anything personally. These kids are rebelling against the system and their situation, not you as an individual. It is also important to remain open and non-judgmental, recognizing that everyone has different conditions, many of which are beyond their control.
What do you think is the biggest concern for kids in the foster care system?
My impression of the foster care system is that it is somewhat fragmented. In one situation, a girl I worked with was placed in a residential facility to keep her safe and help treat the trauma she experienced from a young age. Unfortunately, due to turnover and case overload, this child was assigned three different therapists in a four-month period. This did not allow enough time to build the much-needed trust to be able to open up and share insight into her life. I am also worried about the older kids who are aging out. Where are they going to go? There are a high percentage of homeless children at this transitioning age and most are not yet aware of many of the challenges they may face. They are forced to make decisions without guidance, information and resources. As an eternal educator, I hope to gently influence the children for whom I advocate, with consistent words and actions.