Not a night owl, but eager to help children in foster care?
Join Passaic County CASA’s recently scheduled daytime volunteer advocacy training, which begins on Thursday, March 26 at 10 a.m. This condensed training turns participants into Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers for children in foster care in just three weeks.
Nearly 500 children in Passaic County spent time in foster care last year, and hundreds more were at risk of entering foster care.
“These kids need a voice and aren’t able to speak for themselves,” said Michelle Schaefer of West Milford, who has been a CASA volunteer for more than five years.
CASAs are compassionate, dedicated volunteers who ensure that a child’s individual needs remain priority and that their best interests are represented while they are involved with the child welfare system. CASAs work one-on-one with an abused or neglected child or group of siblings, advocate for their needs, and gather information from family, foster parents, caretakers, teachers, doctors, and caseworkers in order to make recommendations to the family court about the child’s future.
“CASAs are able to provide feedback to the court system to help the judges make decisions in the best interest of the children,” Schaefer said.
The volunteer training instructs prospective volunteers on how to be effective, unbiased advocates, and covers essential topics including child welfare law, trauma, substance abuse, cultural competency, interviewing skills, and court report writing. Anyone can become a Court Appointed Special Advocate; there are no specific educational or professional requirements. Successful CASA volunteers come from all backgrounds.
Passaic County CASA’s daytime training will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting on Thursday, March 26 and ending on Thursday, April 16. Additionally, Passaic County CASA will run an evening training in May. Both training sessions will be held at the Passaic County CASA office, located at 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite D2, in Wayne.
Prior to beginning training as a CASA, prospective volunteers must attend an information session. These hour-long sessions provide an opportunity to learn more about the program and ask questions about the volunteer experience. Information sessions will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22; 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27, and at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11. All sessions take place at the Passaic County CASA Office at 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite D2, in Wayne.
For more information about the volunteer program, visit www.passaiccountycasa.org or e-mail Jessica Mickley at firstname.lastname@example.org. To sign up for an informational session, visit http://www.passaiccountycasa.org/orientation/ or call 973-832-4002, ext. 201.