Ongoing Opportunity Category: Children and Youth
Does it break your heart when you read an article in the newspaper about a child who was severely abused, hurt, maybe died, at the hands of his own parent? Do you think about your own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and how different their lives are surrounded by adults who love and cherish them?
Do you know that for every child you read about in the paper, there are hundreds more in Northwest Arkansas who suffer from broken bones, twisted arms, cigarette burns, hot water scaldings, skull fractures, sexual abuse? We are talking here about infants, toddlers, very young children, teens: all victims, all defenseless. Do you know that you can help any one of these children?
You can be a champion for their healing. You can stop the trajectory they are on, a deep abyss they are falling into as they enter the foster care system – the danger that they will “fall through the cracks,” will move from foster home to foster home – will not get the individual quality attention they must have for healing to begin. Again, think of the children you know and love – would you want to help them? It’s true you can’t help all of the abused children in Northwest Arkansas, but you can help one or two, and make a huge difference in their lives.
You do this by becoming a CASA, a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate. You will be trained to work with children, families, DHS and the courts. Your voice will be heard as you speak for the best interests of an abused child. Ask yourself: how can you not help a child who is hurting, a child who needs you to speak for them?
Court Appointed Special Advocate Commitment
This is not your ordinary volunteer job. People who give their time to CASA advocacy come from many different walks of life. Some have years of education and professional experience working for children and families, but many have no prior experience. CASAs are business professionals, teachers, secretaries, waiters, doctors, stay-at-home moms & dads, retired people, military service people, etc. Some have themselves grown up in the foster care system and felt the sorrow of having to move from home to home. And some are people who flourished in a warm and loving family, never once imagining that there were children who did not have caring parents.
So what does it take to become a CASA volunteer? First and foremost is a desire to help and a heart for children. Because we work with abused and traumatized children, we try to ensure the safety and well-being of those we serve by extensive screening of our volunteers. In addition to the application, volunteers are interviewed, references are obtained, and background checks are conducted prior to the 30-hour training course. Our volunteers average about 3 hours of service per week on their cases. Once assigned a case, we ask that volunteers commit to the length of a case which averages about 14 months. Our advocates have paid staff supervisors available to help every step of the way and resources readily available to assist.
The role of the CASA is to serve as:
An impartial observer, conducting an independent investigation
An information gatherer, obtaining all relevant facts about the child
A monitor, ensuring that the court’s orders are carried out
A reporter, submitting written reports to the court
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