CASA of Northeast Louisiana is looking for volunteers to participate in the upcoming training session, which begins Thursday, March 8. Becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate can help impact a child's future for the better.
CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, help children in the foster care system thrive during this transitional process in their lives. "When children are removed from their home due to abuse or neglect, if they're lucky, the judge will assign a CASA on the case," says Jere' Anthony, the CASA Community Development Coordinator. CASA volunteers walk with their appointed children through the duration of their stay in the foster care system and the court process.
A large part of being a CASA volunteer is gathering information and giving a clear background of the child's life to the judge. Receiving information about the child's situation from an unbiased source helps the judge make a more informed decision about the outcome of the case. CASA volunteers also give a voice to issues the child may not feel comfortable talking about on their own.
CASA volunteers give children the supportive presence of an adult figure in their lives when they need it most. According to Anthony, children placed in the foster care system can experience PTSD rates twice that of combat veterans. Every move after the initial removal only worsens the trauma the child endures. However, a CASA can reduce the number of moves a child has to make and help ease those transitions. Having a CASA also helps the child find a permanent foster home more quickly, as well as not re-enter the foster system.
No prior experience is necessary to become a CASA volunteer. "We think that your unique experiences make you that much greater of an advocate," says Anthony. Aspiring volunteers will need to undergo a required background check. Throughout the training process, trainees have an advocate sponsor or "coach" who walks with them through the process and gives them step by step guidance.
The work may only be 8-10 hours a month, but the effects could last a lifetime for a child in need. Classes start March 8, and last through five 3-hr Thursday meetings. More information and help in becoming a CASA volunteer is available here or over the phone at 318-398-0945.