Hello again! Welcome back to The CASA Chronicles! In today’s post, we’ll be discussing the first steps to learning more about CASA and what it takes to become an advocate/volunteer. In order to properly help the children we work with, thorough training is in order—without it, volunteers wouldn’t be prepared for what may be assigned to them.
Before we delve into the classes and training, CASA will be hosting CONNECT WITH CASA, a drop-in informational event on Thursday, August 15th from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Where classes are more in-depth and formal, this event will be very low-key—so come as you are! There will be brochures, info packets, and refreshments! Everyone is welcome, so bring a friend and any questions you may have.
Now let’s talk about what it’s actually like to go through the process of becoming a CASA:
The first step is filling out an application; don’t let this intimidate you, though—CASA only asks that you’re at least twenty-one years old, have reliable transportation, and have no felonies on your record. These applications can be found on the CASA website under the VOLUNTEER tab and can be filled out and submitted online all in less than ten minutes (yes, I checked!). You’ll typically get a response within a week.
After your application is approved, your next step is coming to classes that serve as your formal pre-service training. National CASA Association requires a minimum of twenty training hours, which are divided over the span of several weeks to make it as manageable as possible. Many current volunteers have jobs, families, and other responsibilities, and we do our best to work with everyone’s schedules.
There are usually two training sessions per year; one in the Fall with classes on Saturdays and one in the Spring on Thursday evenings. This year, the Fall session will be held on Saturdays between September 21 and November 9 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Nearing the end of your training, you’ll attend court with Debbie, CASA’s Advocate Supervisor to understand how that aspect of being a CASA works. Throughout the classes, you’ll be taught courtroom procedures, social services, and the juvenile justice system to prepare for this.
Shortly after the final class in the session, there will be a court date dedicated to being sworn in by President Judge Oliver Lobaugh. While you’re there, you’ll have the chance to meet different Service Coordinators from CYS and attorneys for CYS court. This process takes roughly an hour, then BAM—you’re officially a CASA!
After that, you’ll be assigned your first case, where you’ll put everything you learned in training into action to change a child’s story. And remember, you will always be supported by the CASA staff any time you need them. We can’t wait to meet you!