Get to Know CASA

We are so grateful for this unique opportunity to work with the BIA and to share with you all about the amazing work our CASA volunteer advocates are doing on behalf of abused and neglected children in New Hampshire. We have an ongoing need for more CASA volunteers to support New Hampshire’s children in this meaningful way.

For those who are unfamiliar with CASA, we are a statewide nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers to serve as advocates for abused or neglected children in New Hampshire’s family courts. CASA volunteer advocates get to know a child and the important people in that child’s life to provide vital information to help a judge make decisions based on the child’s best interests.

Last year, more than 600 advocates provided caring, professional advocacy for more than 1,400 abused and neglected children statewide. This effort came with its challenges as we learned new ways to meet with children and assess their needs during the pandemic. Our volunteers quickly adapted to digital and distanced means of communicating with the children and their families, caregivers, and others. From reading books and teaching cooking lessons over Zoom, to writing letters and later socially distanced outdoor visits, our volunteer advocates have maintained their commitment to the children they work with.

GET INSPIRED: If you have about 5 minutes, please watch “becoming CASA” a video that shares the stories of a handful of our advocates, a child former CASA youth and a mother on the brink of losing her children over substance abuse issues who was able to reunify with her three boys.

Since March of 2020, when reports of abuse and neglected plummeted by more than 50 percent at the outset of the state’s stay-at-home order, we’ve been bracing for the potential for a surge of new cases as children return to school and day care full time. Teachers and day care providers are among the most common reporters of suspected abuse and neglect, and with children out from under their watchful eye, we remain very concerned about abuse and neglect that may still be going unseen.

In order to be ready to meet that need, our training and recruitment staff deftly adapted our pre-service training and our information sessions to virtual platforms.

Volunteering Safely During the COVID Pandemic

CASA is making it easy to learn more about volunteering without leaving home through frequent virtual information sessions. After a potential volunteer applies, interviews and training are conducted virtually as well. Volunteers on active cases are finding creative ways to continue to interact and advocate for their CASA child without sacrificing safety. For example, Vickie Plourde, a CASA from Coos County since 2019, had served on her case for almost a year when COVID struck. She pivoted to use Zoom to stay in touch. “I would always take books based on their individual interests, so I could do the same thing over Zoom,” Plourde said. “They were excited to get on Zoom and play. I had a 7-year-old down to a 1-year-old, so we had a wide range of activities. One of the kids loved playing with cars, so I spent a lot of time on the floor playing with cars, moving the camera as I rolled them around.”

Other Ways to Help

Becoming an advocate isn’t right for everyone, or maybe the interest is there but the time isn’t right. There are other ways to help: