Every year, more than three million children nationally are reported abused or neglected. Despite the states’ attempts to help, many of these kids become trapped in the court and child welfare maze and can spend their childhood moving from one temporary shelter to another.
This is where you can step in by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.
CASA of Kankakee County, a program of Child Network, is seeking volunteers for its upcoming training class that will be held after the first of the new year. No special background or education is required to become a CASA. Volunteers from all cultures and professions and of all ethnic and educational backgrounds are welcome. Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age and willing to submit to background checks.
Once accepted into the program, volunteers will receive all necessary training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system and in servicing the special needs of abused and neglected children. The training course follows the National CASA’s Flex Learning curriculum. This program allows trainees to complete half of the course material online; meeting together as a group once a week. The training consists of 30 hours of classroom and online coursework utilizing a training manual containing content, objectives, and activities to develop advocacy skills. The curriculum models values of respect and responsibility and focuses on knowledge, skills and attitudes to be a successful advocate.
CASA volunteers are assigned to an abused and/or neglected child in the Kankakee County Court System and develop relationships with the children they serve. They also work closely with social service caseworkers, parents, counselors and the court, spending an average of 10 hours per month on a case. Through these relationships, CASA volunteers then make independent recommendations to the judge as to the best interests of the children. Cases are considered complete when the child has found a safe and permanent home.
If you are interested in making a difference in a child’s life by becoming a CASA or would like more information, please call Erica Erickson at 815-936-7372 or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also complete the Volunteer Application on the CASA Program page.