Volunteers Needed to Make a Difference in a Child's Life

By Jayne Ann Bugda | jbugda@pahomepage.com

Published 12/16 2013 02:26AM

Updated 12/16 2013 02:32AM

    Children who suffer abuse or neglect are 53 percent more likely to become juvenile delinquents, 38 percent more likely to be arrested as adults, and 38 percent more likely to become violent criminals, according to a study conducted for the National Institute of Justice. What’s more, abused and neglected children are involved in delinquency and criminal activity earlier, commit more offenses, and more often become chronic or repeat offenders. Abused children also have lower IQs and reading ability, higher rates of unemployment, more low-paying jobs and higher rates of suicide attempts.

 How Can We Help?

You’ve seen the statistics. You’ve heard the reports. Child abuse happens all around us, and even though you may not recognize it or see it, you do suffer the effects. So you may ask yourself, “What can I do about it?” In a word: plenty. For years, community volunteers across the country have given abused and neglected children a second chance for a positive future. And with the deployment of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs throughout the United States, assistance is being offered to abused and neglected children finding themselves in the courts in search of safe, permanent homes.

Through the work of CASA volunteers, these vulnerable children find safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. Our court appointed volunteers have the power to provide the link between where a child is and where that child wants to be.

  • TITLE Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer

  • OBJECTIVE To act as an advocate for children who come to the attention of the court primarily as a result of abuse and/or neglect.

  • QUALIFICATIONS Volunteers must be at least twenty-one years of age and must successfully complete screening requirements including a written application, personal interview, at least three personal references and criminal background investigations.  CASA volunteers shall be recruited and accepted into the Program without regard to gender, disabilities, age (21 or older), race or other condition.

Our next training sessions begin on February 3rd, 2013!
For more information or to set up an interview contact Stephanie at (570)855-2247

What is a CASA volunteer? A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers include those in foster care for whom permanency is being addressed. Most of the children are victims of abuse and/or neglect.
What training does a CASA volunteer receive?  CASA volunteers undergo a thorough 35 to 40 hour training course conducted by the local CASA Program. Volunteers learn about courtroom procedure from the principals in the system—from judges, lawyers, social workers, court personnel, and others. CASA volunteers also learn effective advocacy techniques for children, and are educated about specific topics ranging from child sexual abuse to early childhood development and adolescent behavior.  Volunteer trainees also observe dependency court proceedings.  In addition to the initial training volunteers receive, they are also expected to complete 12 hours of in-service training annually.
What responsibilities does a volunteer have as a CASA?
As a child advocate, the CASA volunteer has four main responsibilities:
  • to serve as a fact-finder for the judge by thoroughly INVESTIGATING the current and background facts of each assigned case;
  • to provide these facts in report form to the judge and to speak for the child in the courtroom, ADVOCATING for the child’s best interests;
  • FACILITATING communication between the parties in the case; and
  • to continue MONITORING the parties in the case, ensuring that dependency is brought to a swift and appropriate conclusion in the child's best interests.

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