Napoleon was short.
Bulls hate red.
You shouldn’t swim right after you eat.
Vikings wore horned helmets.
Salt helps water boil quicker.
Most of us have grown up hearing these myths – and yes, they are all myths (Napoleon was actually 5’7”, which was above average at that time. Who knew?!) – but some myths are more in need of debunking than others. We’re not talking about Napoleon here, we’re talking about the myths that impact our choices and frame how we do things or where we spend our time.
There are a lot of myths circulating about what it takes to become a CASA volunteer, and we want to make sure that you don’t let one of these prevent you from becoming an advocate. If you have hesitations about taking the plunge, take a few minutes and let us debunk some of the most common misconceptions that we hear on a regular basis.
1. I’m not a lawyer or a social worker. How could I possibly help?
Having a career or background in legal or social work is not required. In fact, our volunteer pool has individuals with a variety of different backgrounds from real estate agents to financial analysts to medical professionals. Being willing to advocate for a child is in no way bound to a certain career, field of academic study or background. Compassion and care for children can be found in every walk of life. Along with holistic training, CASA volunteers are never alone in their work. Each volunteer is assigned an advocate supervisor to assist, support, and answer any and all questions along the way.
2. I am not retired or a stay at home parent. Would I even have the time?
Don’t count yourself out just because you are a full time employee! In fact, nearly 45% of our active volunteers work full time. If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer but work full time, it is worth having a conversation with our Volunteer and Training Manager, Julieanna. Together, you can gauge whether or not you have the appropriate time and schedule to dedicate to CASA. Typical casework takes dedication of 15-20 hours per month.
3. Going into a courtroom is really intimidating. What if I mess things up?
The second session of training is dedicated to helping volunteers understand the law, Child Protection System and the Courts. Along with this specific training, volunteers observe an advocate supervisor in court before being assigned a case. Graduation from volunteer training occurs at juvenile court where you will have the chance to meet one of the juvenile court judges. Since judges refer cases to CASA, they are familiar with having CASA volunteers in the courtroom. Again, you will never be alone in these situations. Your advocate supervisor will be there to support you, guide you, and help you navigate the courtroom.
4. This seems like a lot of training before I can become a volunteer.
While there is a 33-hour pre-service training course, this information is designed to make you feel more equipped and prepared for this role. Training also provides the opportunity to share in this new experience with other first time volunteers who may be experiencing the same anxieties, questions, and excitements. We also offer accelerated training during certain months that allows you to go through the entire course in three weeks. Volunteers find all this training worth it when they feel equipped to advocate for the best interests of a child.
5. Aren’t there other people helping kids in the system? Would I even make a difference?
While there are other players involved in this process, what makes the CASA volunteer unique is the fact that they typically only handle one case at a time. This allows each volunteer the opportunity to have an in depth look into that child’s life and explore the best safe and permanent options for them. CASA is referred by the court in order to make sure these children do not get lost in an overburdened legal and social service system. In the midst of a lot of changes and often chaos, a CASA volunteer can be a constant presence in a vulnerable child’s life. As far as making a difference, independent research shows that children with CASA volunteers are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and less likely to reenter care. However, it will take you less than the duration of a full case to see the impact you are making in a child’s life.
If you’re still on the fence and want to learn more, we encourage you to join us at one of our upcoming volunteer information sessions. We’re hosting Coffee with CASA on March 7th, and a special male-focused March Madness recruitment event on March 18th. Or, if you think you’re ready to pop in for a visit with Julieanna, you can contact her by email here. Either way, we hope to see you soon!