Long-term Volunteers Needed to Help Vulnerable Children on a 1-on-1 Basis with CASA

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Current Virtual opportunity:

Disclaimer: this volunteer opportunity is not for the light-hearted.

Exceptional need for males and bilingual (Spanish) speakers

Fairfax CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) works to help children who have entered the court system find permanent, safe homes.

CASA volunteers are average citizens. They are not (but may have once been) social workers or lawyers. They are citizens trained to help children have a voice.

When a child enters Fairfax’s county’s court system, be it from abuse or neglect, a CASA volunteer may be appointed to them. The volunteer will listen and talk to the child, learn about what they are going through, speak with their teachers, doctors, social workers, and report back to the court. The mission is in fact quite simple: the CASA volunteer serves to represent the best interest of abused or neglected children under the protection of the Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.  

Since CASA’s inception in 1989, volunteers have helped 6,700 children who found themselves in the court system.

In 2019 alone, 130 CASA volunteers:

  • Served 302 children from 188 families.
    • 38% of these children were witnesses to domestic violence
    • 30% had at least one parent struggling with opioid addiction
    • 37% had at least one parent with a mental illness
  • Spent 17,163 hours advocating for the children they serve.
  • Made 5,580 visits.
  • Filed 252 Court reports.
  • Made 1,356 recommendations to the court.
    • 98% of these recommendations were adopted and ordered by the judges.
  • Closed a total of 78 cases.

During normal times, volunteers do interact with kids. However, now in times of COVID, all communication has gone remote. Volunteers make phone calls, talk on Facetime or Skype, text on all sorts of platforms to check in with their assigned child at least twice, if not more times a month. Volunteers write detailed court reports. Volunteers are finding new ways to get creative.

Older adults, empty nesters, and retirees have proven to be some of the best support systems in these cases. However, taking on this volunteer task is complex and tough. It requires commitment. But if you feel like you can help kids find safe, permanent homes, cutting down their time on the wait-list, please read the following requirements, contact points, and information about training sessions (all done virtually).

This is not your typical volunteering opportunity, and if you are still reading at this point, maybe exploring an atypical option is something you should consider.

Requirements:

  • The ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Volunteers have to be tactful and patient in communicating with children. They are also required to present reports to the court. These reports are vital to ensuring the long-term safety of these children.
  • The ability to remain with their assigned child until the court case is deemed closed. Sometimes this can take as little as a few weeks. Sometimes this can take a few years. You are a confidant to this child. You may be the only steady figure this child has in their life. This is a serious commitment.
  • The volunteer must possess a mature and sound judgment to advocate for the best interest of the child.
  • The volunteer must be empathetic and able to relate to people from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please reach out to volunteer specialist, Shannon White, at swhite@volunteerfairfax.org. She will be able to direct you on how to register for one of the following informational sessions listed below. All these sessions are conducted via Zoom.

  • Thursday, Oct 15th: 7:30-8:00 pm
  • Tuesday, Oct 27th: 10:00-11:30 am
  • Saturday, Nov 7th: 10:00-11:30 am
  • Tuesday, Nov 17th: 2:00-3:30 pm

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