What is a CASA volunteer?
So often we find ourselves asking, “Is anything I do really making a difference?” A few years ago I began asking myself that so often that I couldn’t ignore it. At the time I felt that my career was much more of a way to make ends meet that a lifelong calling.
But God knew where I needed to go and faithfully placed it in my path. In March of 2008, I had the distinct privilege to be among the very first class of CASA volunteers to be sworn in in my little county in rural West Virginia. In the five years since I became a CASA, I have learned that you may (and should) do work for several charities and causes but CASA is a completely unique experience among them.
CASA volunteers are regular, everyday citizens who are specially trained to speak for children who are victims of abuse and neglect and have been placed in foster care. Volunteers are appointed by circuit court judges to be their eyes and ears and to submit unbiased reports that include recommendations for the best interests of the child involved.
As a CASA I have met some of the most amazing kids that I have ever had the privilege to encounter. Time and time again these kids have amazed me with their strength, resiliency, and ability to come out of situations and homes that most of us cannot even comprehend and build new and happy lives. I have formed bonds and friendships with these kids and am lucky enough to be able to say that I can name a child whose life I helped change for the better. In fact I can name several. I don’t say that to brag on my good works, I say it to illustrate exactly how CASA is unique among charities. CASA is a place where the rewards are hard earned but the benefits last a lifetime for all involved. It's not about what these kids have learned from me, it's about what I have learned from them.
There are almost 1,000 CASA programs in the US ranging from large cities to small rural programs like mine. Volunteers are usually asked to commit approximately 10 hours per month to the case they agree to be appointed to. Volunteers usually stay in close contact with the child, gather information from foster parents, advocate for theraputic services, and much more. Volunteers are asked to remain on the case until a forever family has been found for their child. This is a huge advantage for these kids! A child may have several case workers, a couple of different attorneys, and many service providers throughout their journey through “the system”, but their CASA volunteer remains the same – a consistent anchor in the storm.
So if you are looking to give back to your community, find a fulfilling purpose, or help children in desperate need, please consider contacting National CASA or your local CASA office!