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Be a Richmond CASA Volunteer
During this time of crisis, the most at-risk children in Richmond need our help more than ever. Schools are a safety net, often serving as the only place for children to safely disclose abuse/neglect and a place where teachers and administrators pick up on warning signals that something isn’t right at home. With the isolation and added stress caused by COVID-19, the risk factors for abuse and neglect dramatically increase. CASA volunteers are needed now more than ever. Richmond CASA is following the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and the social distancing guidelines from the CDC and WHO. Volunteers are not expected nor allowed to go into homes during this time. CASA volunteers are continuing to work cases and are checking in with families by phone and video chat.
Change a Child’s Story™. Become a CASA Volunteer.
Richmond Court Appointed Special Advocates is currently in need of volunteers to serve children in our community. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for children who have been abused or neglected. They make sure the child’s needs are heard – in the community and in the courtroom – and serve as a caring, consistent adult in a child’s life. They are individuals from all walks of life who are willing to dedicate their time to looking out for a child’s best interests.
CASA volunteers get to know the child and gather information from everyone involved in his or her life, including parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers and other service providers. CASA volunteers use the information gathered to report to the judge, advocating for the child’s best interests.
Last year, approximately 55% of the children we served were male, while only 14% of our CASA volunteers were men. In the city of Richmond, the families involved in the court system are disproportionately African American. We have also seen an increase in the number of Spanish speaking children who are before the court. For these reasons, we continue to have a high need for male and Spanish speaking volunteers, as well as volunteers of color, but we encourage all those interested in this volunteer opportunity to apply.
CASA Volunteers must meet the following criteria:
- Be over the age of 21
- Have regular access to a car and a computer
- Willing to commit at least 18 months of their time in order to provide consistency for a child throughout the entire case
- Able to participate in the 35 hour training class
- Able to devote 10-15 hours each month to their case
- Able to effectively communicate orally and in writing
- Have a professional attitude
- Have a genuine desire to help a child in need
- Have no significant criminal, child abuse registry, or driving violations history
Ready to speak up for a child who needs you?
Step 1: Information Session (Optional)
Richmond CASA holds several information sessions a year, so that potential volunteers can learn more about how CASAs advocate for children who have been abused or neglected and hear from a CASA Volunteer about their experience. There is not currently an information session scheduled. To learn more, you can read our Frequently Asked Questions or contact Heather Farber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-646-5180.
Step 2: Application
Once you have decided that you would like to become a CASA volunteer, download the CASA Volunteer Application. You can email the application to Heather Farber at email@example.com or fax it to 804-257-7109. Please make sure you send your typed autobiography with the completed application form. We are currently accepting applications for our next training class, which begins on May 19, 2020. To secure a spot in our training class, please apply as soon as possible. We will be accepting applications until May 8.
Step 3: Interview
Part of the screening process is an in-person interview with two CASA staff members, so that you can learn more about the Richmond CASA program and we can assess whether you will be a good fit for this volunteer role. Because we work with children, we conduct a thorough background check on all of our volunteers. You will be asked to complete several background check forms while you are at the office for the interview. All interviews are currently being conducted by video chat.
Step 4: Training
We offer 3 New Volunteer Training classes each year. See below for upcoming training dates. Richmond CASA volunteers participate in 35 hours of pre-service training, which typically involves 30 hours of classroom interaction and 5 hours of courtroom observation. Training is an extension of our screening process.
Note: Due to COVID-19, we have moved our training to a virtual format. Volunteers will complete training over Zoom. The health of our families and volunteers is our highest priority. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about how our work is being impacted by the pandemic. If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, we encourage you to submit an application today. We will be accepting applications for this training class until May 8.
Step 5: Swearing In
After successful completion of the previous steps, you will be sworn-in by a Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge and ready to accept your first case. Richmond CASA staff will be on-hand to support you every step of the way.
A CASA’s Story
Maria retired from teaching, and was looking for a meaningful way to give back to her community. As soon as she heard about CASA, she felt like it was the perfect fit for her. After she went through training, she was quickly assigned to Carrie’s case. Carrie entered the foster care system after she was sexually abused and neglected in her mother’s home.
Over the next 3 years, Carrie would be moved into four different foster homes. She bounced around to 3 different schools, and worked with many different service providers. Throughout her time in foster care, she had one consistent person in her life – Maria. Maria followed her case closely over those three years, and advocated for what was in Carrie’s best interest. She advocated for Carrie to receive mental health services as she struggled to deal with the trauma she had experienced. She also advocated for Carrie to be adopted after it became clear that Carrie’s mother would not be able to provide a safe home for her. Maria followed her case when Carrie moved into her final foster home with a loving and patient couple who would eventually adopt her.
During one of her final visits with Carrie, Carrie was drawing a picture of all the things that were most important to her, including her adoptive parents, her new siblings and the family dog. Then, Carrie surprised her by drawing a picture of Maria. She gave Maria a hug and whispered, “I wish you were my grandma.” That’s when Maria knew that she had made a difference in Carrie’s life.
If you have questions about becoming a CASA volunteer, please contact Heather Farber at Heather.Farber@richmondgov.com or 804-646-5180.