Duke has been actively recruiting local residents for the first training course of the new year, which begins Jan. 12.
“The volunteer must complete 30 hours of training and observe courtroom proceedings in child abuse cases before they are sworn in as a CASA volunteer,” Duke said.
The training is provided in several sessions. The training course that begins Jan. 12 will be conducted on Saturdays.
Future courses will be held in the evening hours, and weekday hours, to accommodate any person’s schedule who is interested in becoming a volunteer.
Once the training course is completed, the CASA volunteer is sworn in by a local judge and is ready to take the next available case. The CASA volunteer visits the child or sibling group at least once a month, communicates to people who have information about the child, and then reports the findings to the judge. There are usually four to five court hearings in the case during a year. The CASA volunteer is the voice for the child, or children, in the court system. Throughout the case, the CASA volunteer advocates for the child’s best interests, and works so the end result is that the child, or children, are placed in a safe, permanent home.
“CASA volunteers who make up this organization are so very important,” said Duke. “I will work hard to ensure the volunteers are properly trained so when they are appointed to a case, they will feel confident.”
Duke added that throughout the duration of a case, CASA staff is always ready to answer volunteers’ questions and assist them in many ways.
Most of the CASA’s work is done on his or her own time, including when they visit the child (in the foster home or having lunch with them at school), reviewing records, emailing and talking with others involved in the case, and reading and writing reports. Some workday meetings in the case includes the court hearings and visits between the parents and children (when the CASA observes interaction within the family).