There is nothing more important than the well-being of a child. When children have to enter the foster care system, CASA of Travis County is there to provide an unbiased recommendation to the court.
CASA accepts all new cases with children aged one and up. Volunteers are always needed to serve as advocates. Continue reading to learn how you can help CASA reach its 2019 goal of serving 2,000 children with 800 volunteers.
What Is CASA of Travis County?
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. When a child enters the foster care system, the court automatically assigns him or her to a CASA advocate, all of whom are volunteers.
After the child is assigned, the advocate gets to know the child and the child’s family. The advocate will be fully informed of this particular situation. This enables the advocate to paint a full picture of what is best for the child, assisting the judge to make a decision regarding whether a child should be reunited with her family or whether other options should be explored.
Role of the CASA Advocate
Advocates play a vital role at CASA. These volunteers are trained to champion for children who have been abused or neglected in courts, schools, and their community.
While volunteering is a big commitment, it is flexible and rewarding. The time commitment for the main volunteer role, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), is typically 15 to 20 hours per month. These hours involve reviewing cases, meeting with families and children, emailing involved parties, and attending court sessions.
Each advocate is assigned a child or family to work with for an average of 17 months. The most important aspect of the advocate role is to stay unbiased. He or she will take the time to get to know the family, understand what brought the child into the foster care system, and then determine whether the child can be reunited with his family.
CASA has two additional roles that require different time commitments: Early Family Engagement (EFE) and Family Finding (FF). You can learn more about these volunteer positions on the CASA website.
All volunteers are provided with a wonderful support system. If an advocate needs another opinion or backup for a court appearance, CASA steps in. Individuals who are open-minded about different life experiences make great advocates.
How to Volunteer as an Advocate
If you are interested in volunteering with CASA as an advocate, you can apply online through the CASA website. You will then be contacted by a CASA representative. Once your application has been approved, you will undergo an intensive interview process, followed by a background check.
There are no education requirements. You must be at least 21 years of age and not be a current foster parent. Training is 39 hours long. Most of the training is in person, but some can be completed at home.
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How Else Can I Help?
Volunteering your time as a CASA advocate is a sizable commitment. There are other ways to volunteer, if the time requirements don’t work for you right now. For example, every year CASA organizes CASA Superhero Run to benefit the organization. Over 3,500 people participate! Volunteers are always needed to facilitate this major event.
While CASA of Travis County currently has over 750 volunteers, more are needed to serve as many children as possible. If you want more information about volunteering, visit the nonprofit’s website.
@theAustinot would like to know:
Would you consider being a CASA advocate?
The original version of this article was published May 23, 2018.
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