Be a Voice for Children: ADVOCATE!
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, disparate backgrounds and professions, and are all ages. No legal or social work background is necessary to volunteer. The only requirement is a big heart and the willingness to be a voice for a child. Thirty hours of training is provided before the advocate’s work begins, and ongoing staff support and continued trainings occur along the way. The advocates are asked for one year of service, though many times the volunteers desire to continue for longer periods of time. The typical time commitment is ten hours per month which includes seeing the child at least once a month.
What are our volunteer needs? People! We welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer for CASA. Specifically, we would like to have more male volunteers and African-American volunteers of either gender in order to better reflect the children we serve. But, any and all interested men or women are encouraged to consider volunteering!
- Be age 21 or above
- Have the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing
- Possess mature judgment and a high degree of responsibility
Have sufficient time to spend at least ten hours per month advocating for the best interests of the child
- Easily relate to persons of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status
CASAs act as a communication link between the child and the "system.” They are the constant advocate and supporter as the child navigates through the court system. Ultimately, the CASA strives to be see that the child’s outcome leads to a safe, loving, permanent home.
CASA trains and supports volunteer advocates to work one-on-one with foster childrenas they maneuver through the court system. The advocate gets to know the child well, and investigates the child’s circumstances by interviewing adults involved with the child (teachers, social workers, caregivers, etc.). The advocate then writes a court report and presents it to the judge at the child’s hearing. The goal is to helpensure that the child receives needed resources (educational, medical, emotional, etc.) and to ultimately help secure a safe, loving, permanent home for each child.
New advocates complete 30 hours of classroom training prior to being matched with their CASA child. Trainings are held in the evenings. Once the work begins, CASAs spend an average of ten hours per month spending time with the child or researching the case. We ask for a one year commitment. Most advocates become increasingly passionate about the mission of CASA and opt to continue working, sometimes for 5+ years.
Across the United States there are over 500,000 children in foster care due to abuse and neglect, approximately 600 of those children are from Baltimore County. Social Workers from the Department of Social Services in our county work with approximately twenty children and families each. Appointed juvenile attorneys have caseloads of 75 to 100 children each. The professionals involved are unable to provide children with the individualized attention they deserve. A CASA advocate, on the other hand, is assigned to the case of only one child or sibling group at a time. These advocates are the one constant in the foster child’s life. As one advocate told her CASA child whose experience was that every adult in her life had abandoned her, "I’m not going anywhere!”
The court often feels that without the voice of a CASA, they do not have enough information to make the right decision about a child’s future. CASAs are able to thoroughly know each case. They will fully inform the court about the needs of the child and his or her best outcome. The CASA is usually the first adult in the child’s life who has not abandoned them, the first they have been able to trust and rely on, the first who has promised to stick with them for the long haul. Indeed, our advocates change lives. They are the one constant in the life of a child who has only the voice of the CASA to speak for them, one child at a time.
We encourage all to consider joining the CASA family and becoming the voice for an abused or neglected child who needs an advocate!
Starting a High School CASA Club is a great way for students to help children in foster care while gaining leadership skills and having fun with classmates. CASA Club members will learn about CASA of Baltimore County, the foster care system, and the importance of providing each child in foster care with an Advocate.
CASA Clubs are 100% initiated and led by students. We want this to be a fun, educational, and rewarding experience for all students involved. While the primary goals for all clubs are the same (generating awareness and raising money for CASA so we can help more children), we encourage each group to come up with their own creative ways to reach these goals.
CASA of Baltimore County will hold periodic meetings for all CASA Clubs in the area to learn more about CASA and share ideas. All Clubs will also be encouraged to participate in and support our Annual Wacky Tacky 5k and Fun Run in the spring.
The efforts of your CASA Club can truly make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children in the Baltimore area.
Organize Your Own CASA Event!
Anyone can host a fundraiser at home or at another location! It’s a great way to create awareness and raise funds to support CASA of Baltimore County. Some examples of events include golf outings/tournaments, jewelry (or other product) parties, or bake sales. Or charge admission for game-themed parties, kids’ parties, or dinner parties in your home. Your church/synagogue or workplace might agree to organize a special collection for CASA (and we’d be happy to give a great presentation!) The sky’s the limit, and every penny counts! Plan a party or event today!
If you want more information about becoming a CASA volunteer call the CASA office at (410) 828-0515 or e-mail us today firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an application. You may also download the application.