Friends of CASA of Del Norte: Our advocates are a group of interested and concerned community members who support the vision and mission of CASA of Del Norte. This vital and energetic group supports CASA of Del Norte through donations of time, in-kind donations, volunteer hours and enthusiasm. Contact Friends of CASA.
- Help with fund-raising events
- Give a couple of hours at an event
- Donate a gift for the silent auction event
- Attend the silent auction event and purchase something
- Purchase a hole sponsor sign at the annual golf tournament
- Provide beverages for staff and advocates during training
Just a few ideas and we know you have many more! CASA of Del Norte needs your energy and creativity. We rely on grants and donations for our funding. It is important that the community have a consistent and appropriate image of CASA of Del Norte and what it does to help the children of Del Norte County.
Please see www.northerncalifornia.net for demographics of our county. The Del Norte – Crescent City Chamber of Commerce has done a fine job of highlighting the important factors. Once you have reviewed those details, it may be easier to understand why we have such a need here in Del Norte County for services such as CASA of Del Norte.
Our advocates are a group of dedicated, well-trained citizens from our community who volunteer to dedicate several hours each month to be an advocate for a child. Advocates are a consistent support for a child in their time of crisis. Advocates work for the best interest of children who enter the court system primarily as a result of abuse and neglect.
Advocates interview parents, teachers, social workers, and anyone else who might have insight into the needs, challenges and strengths of the child. Volunteers form a team with their case supervisor and supplement the role of other professionals involved in the case.
The importance of the role of an advocate was recently emphasized by the report issued by the Pew Commission. The findings of the commission include recommendation for Congress to appropriate the $5 million for CASA as a Strong Voice for Children, which was authorized in October 2000 in the Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act (SANCA).
The report states that “CASA is a proven means of strengthening the voice of children in dependency courts. The report further urges states and private organizations which are now providing substantial support to local CASA programs, join Congress as partners in this important effort to expand the program into underserved jurisdictions.”
The commission was launched in May 2003 and is charged to develop recommendations to improve outcomes for children in the foster care system – particularly to expedite the movement of children from foster care into safe, permanent, nurturing families, and to prevent unnecessary placements in foster care. www.pewfostercare.org
Q: Do I need to have any special training or educational background?
A: No. CASA provides the necessary training to become a CASA advocate volunteer.
Q: Is there an age requirement?
A: Yes. You must be at least 18 to become a CASA advocate volunteer.
Q: What commitments would I be making?
A: When you become a CASA you agree to work with a child for at least a year, to meet with them on a weekly basis, to maintain confidentiality and to abide by the protocol that CASA has established. For more information see qualities and responsibilities of an Advocate.
Q: What hours would I be volunteering?
A: You set your own hours based on your schedule, and the schedule of the child and their caregivers. Expect to spend at least 2 hours a week visiting the child and making phone calls. During times when there is a report due, or a change is occurring, more time may be required to gather information. Our volunteers provide an average of 10 hours a month.
Q: What sort of things would I do with the child?
A: This will depend on the age and interests of the child, as well as your own interests, and the guidelines of their caregivers. If you are working with a teen, you might spend time walking around the mall or playing basketball. If you are working with a younger child you might take them to the park or the zoo. If the child is very young, you may only interact with them with their caregivers present.
Q: What else does a CASA volunteer do besides visit the child?
A: CASA volunteers gather information and prepare reports regarding the best interests and needs of the child. CASA volunteers are legally appointed to their child and have access to confidential information such as school and medical records. They also help locate resources for the child.
Q: What kind of support would I have from the CASA staff?
A: CASA provides a case supervisor for direct support. The case supervisor attends court, assists in preparing reports and is available to provide advice and guidance to the volunteer. CASA also has a volunteer coordinator who provides training and locates resources for volunteers.
Q: Do I need to own a car?
A: No, however having regular access to a vehicle will impact your ability to visit a child, attend court hearings and gather information regarding the case. This particularly makes a difference in your ability to transport a child for activities (which can be a good opportunity for them to feel comfortable with you). In order to drive with a child, volunteers must meet our screening standards including driving record criteria.
Q: If I have had past experiences with the court system will that be a problem?
A: Possibly. Because of the vulnerable nature of these children, CASA screens volunteers and requires national criminal background screening as well reference checks. Some situations will automatically exclude a potential volunteer, but others may not. Volunteer records are reviewed by the CASA staff and evaluated based on our protocol. Some determining factors include length of time since the situation and the nature of the issue. If you have concerns in this area, please discuss them with the volunteer coordinator.
Q: What if I can't be an Advocate but still want to help?
A: There are many other ways that you can help CASA, including simply spreading the word to others. We often need help with special events, mailings, and fundraising activities. For more options please see our list of other volunteer opportunities.
Volunteers attend 30 hours of training covering areas such as: child abuse and neglect, court room procedures, court report writing, interviewing and fact-finding, substance abuse, child development, cultural awareness, child welfare law, and other topics that involve child welfare. Professionals from the community participate in the training, including therapists, attorneys, and social workers. There are also opportunities to speak with current volunteers. During training, volunteers have the opportunity to visit court and are expected to write a draft court report. After volunteers complete the training, a district judge will swear them in as officers of the court, the first step toward being appointed as an advocate.
After being appointed to a case, volunteers continue to participate in continuing education trainings. These are offered monthly through the CASA office. Volunteers are expected to complete 10 hours of continuing education a year, which can include those provided by CASA as well as other trainings in the community.
CASA trainings are currently offered four times a year. March and September trainings occur on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6-9pm, for the duration of a month. January and June trainings are offered during the daytime, 9am-4pm, and are completed in the span of one week, Monday through Friday. Some training sessions can be made up if there are conflicts. To be eligible to attend training you need to begin the application process prior to the start of the training. If you have any questions or potential conflicts, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator.