There are over 780,000 children in the United States who are caught in the social services system. Everyday, thousands of children are taken away from their homes due to neglect and abuse. They are unable to live safely at home and travel from foster home to foster home, never having a stable environment. Young children are forced to deal with new foster parents, police, therapists, judges, lawyers, social workers and many more strangers. CASA is one of the many strangers that will come into a child’s life who will make a huge impact.
CASA stands for Court Appointment Special Advocate. Child Advocates are non-profit, tax-exempt organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected and abused children. CASA is a nationwide organization with over 52,000 volunteers and 937 programs for youths. The role of CASA is to provide the background of each child to the judge while in court, evaluate the child’s history and make recommended future choices, speak up for the child and their best interest, and continue to stay in the child’s life to make sure all of their needs are met.
Anyone can become a CASA volunteer. You will need to go through some basic training and be dedicated to the child you are attempting to help. You may need to do basic jobs such as interviewing the child, their parents, family members, health providers, school officials, and other associated people. Volunteers are responsible for reviewing the case records and making written reports about court hearings. Unlike an attorney, a CASA volunteer looks out for the child’s best interest verses what the child may want. They get to spend time with the child and better understand them in order to find better ways to help.
If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, you will need to go over these qualifications. CASA does not require any specialized degrees, nor legal experience. You must be over the age of 21, have a clean criminal history, clean history of child abuse, be willing to work with a child for a year period, and be able to examine a child’s background and state of mind without it affecting yours. CASA volunteers should have a general concern for child and a strong desire to help. They should be well adjusted and able to handle emotional situations as well as having a flexible schedule and time to devote to a child’s case. Volunteers are to complete a 30 hours training course in order to better help a child.
There are other ways to help children in need besides from becoming a CASA volunteer. On the CASA website, you can donate to the foundation and support a child. There are many people involved in CASA now, such as Dr. Phil and other volunteers who help make a difference. With your help, you can allow foster children to have a chance at a real life, finish school and college, and get into a career. Most foster children feel like they have no one, they feel alone. You can make a different in the life of a child.