EASTON — CASA of the Mid-Shore is currently accepting applications from individuals who are interested in becoming Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers. Court Appointed Special Advocates are screened and trained adult volunteers who are appointed by a judge to help children under court protection due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
At times a friend, at times a role model, at times a familiar face, a CASA volunteer is always an advocate for the child and is often an important, consistent figure in the child’s life.
CASA Executive Director Robin Davenport encourages people to contact her office now, stating, “We welcome applications from Talbot, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, and Kent County residents and encourage men and women from all walks of life, professions, and culturally diverse backgrounds to consider becoming CASA volunteers. Approximately one-third of the children we serve are African American. We hope to receive applications from African American community members interested in working with children of color who are in the foster care system. The ability to culturally identify with a CASA volunteer can help a child to more freely communicate his/her needs, which can lead to successful resolution to a case. Also, approximately half of the children served by CASA are boys who could benefit from having a male CASA volunteer.”
No special previous experience is necessary to become a CASA volunteer; however, volunteers must be 21 years of age and are selected on the basis of their competency, objectivity, and commitment.
Participation in CASA’s Pre-Service Training, which covers a variety of topics including CASA’s roles and responsibilities, child abuse dynamics, the court system, cultural competency issues, communication skills, and advocacy techniques, is required prior to becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Beginning in the fall and paced out over five weeks, the 37-hour training program combines 20 hours of in-person class participation with an online curriculum that allows for personal flexibility in completing 15 additional hours of training.
Once a CASA volunteer is sworn in as an officer of the court, he or she is assigned to work with a child who is in the foster care system. CASA volunteers take the time to learn as much as possible about each child’s life by talking with the child, parents, teachers, relatives, physicians, social workers, attorneys and others. Most importantly, each CASA volunteer gets to know their appointed child. After assessing the child’s situation and needs, the volunteer provides a written report to the court with recommendations as to what is in the child’s best interest, seeking a permanent resolution for each child’s life as quickly and safely as possible.
Contact the CASA office at 410-822-2866 ex. 6 for information or visit www.casamidshore.org.