It was a full house at CASA of New Hampshire’s Manchester training in October as 20 individuals and 1 staff member completed the 40-hour pre-service training required to become a CASA volunteer advocate.
From doctors to marketing professionals, this class had a wide variety of New Hampshire residents, showing that anyone with a passion for helping children can become a CASA volunteer advocate. Their extensive training consists of 10 units that overview a variety of topics from legal procedures in the family court system to understanding the family dynamic. In most cases, the goal of the court and CASA volunteer advocates is to help find the family a way to be reunified. Parents are given a 12-month clock to correct their wrongs and provide a stable environment for their children. This process is not easy. CASA volunteer advocates learn throughout training how to have patience and provide to support to struggling parents, confused children and frustrated family members. They gain a deep understanding of the child’s wants and need, and keep them at the forefront of every conversation about the case.
When the chances of reunification are not available, CASA volunteer advocates are there for the children as they move to a new foster home, group home or pre-adoptive family. They check in with the children at least once a month (and often more) to make sure that they feel safe, understood and begin to thrive. CASA volunteer advocates have a voice when they believe that their are additional resources that could help the child, like an individualized education program (IEP) in school or an equine therapeutic program.
Each individual that completed this training class will learn to navigate the complex system with the help of a CASA program manager, a staff person who overseas their case details, including helping them with court report writing, attending important meetings and occasionally court. They may also have the chance to work with a peer coordinator, who is an experience CASA volunteer advocate that serves as a mentor to new volunteer advocates.
The need for new CASA volunteers is constant. New cases are coming into the family court system weekly with children all over the state who need a caring, compassionate adult to speak for their best interests. Interested in becoming a CASA? View our 2019 training schedule here.
At the end of training, each new volunteer advocate was asked to write a message to a CASA kid from the sample case they simulated. Read their words of encouragement below!
Pictured are: Ellen Bassett of Canterbury, Chistina Gonzalez of Manchester, Jennifer Olsson of Nashua, Ken Butenhof of Manchester, James Spotts of Litchfield, Gary Wasserman of Bedford, Barbara Walters of Northwood, Lisa Sullivan of Hooksett, Janice Conti of Hudson, Jennifer Bostwick of Exeter, Thomas Cleary of Londonderry, Linda Marciniszyn of Fremont, Heidi Page of Deering, Cindy Beckly of Amherst, Suzy Allen of Dover, Jo D. Livingston of Concord, Kelly Loosigian of Concord Ralp Slavik of Milford and Erin Boylan, CASA program manager.