At Johnson Vorhees & Martucci, our community means a lot to us, which is why we are major advocates for community volunteer work. It gives us great pride to know that our employees are taking the lead as servants within their respective communities. The CASA program is one of the great volunteer opportunities our JVM family participates in. CASA really stands out to us as an incredible volunteer effort because they do so much to help young ones at risk. CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, are people who advocate on behalf of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Children who have been victims of such circumstances need people in their corner, fighting for their voice to be heard within the juvenile court system. As social workers come and go, parental visitation rights change, and the child’s housing situation fluctuates, CASA volunteers remain the most consistent thing in that child’s life. CASA members are assigned one child who they stick with until that child’s case is resolved and they are placed into a forever home. It is a CASA’s job to make recommendations for services needed on behalf of their child. Volunteers work with legal and child welfare professionals, educators, and service providers to ensure that judges have all the information they need to make the most well-informed decisions for each child.
Working as a volunteer for this program comes with great reward but requires sacrifice. To become a CASA, volunteers go through several weeks of training, attending classes that educate on the juvenile court system and the CASA program. Once training has been completed, volunteers are sworn in by the Judge of the juvenile court and are given the opportunity to pick their case. After picking their case, the court will formally assign it and then the real work begins. CASAs review reports and documents with their team, begin going to hearings and meetings, visiting their child, and doing what they can to help. CASAs are also required to keep up with annual training to ensure they stay up to date on child service practices and any updates passed through the court system that may affect future proceedings.
The Impact of the CASA Program
CASAs have a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of vulnerable children. CASAs are not just the voice of the children they serve, but also their mentors and friends. The current child welfare system is overwhelmed with more than 440,000 children in the foster care system. With the average foster child spending a year in the system, CASAs make a difference by helping these youths find permanent homes faster and gaining stability along the way. CASA volunteers do their utmost to reunite children with their family of origin, whether that is aiding the family through expert services or reaching out to extended family to find an unconditionally loving home.
Children in the foster system who are assigned CASAs are more likely to thrive and succeed throughout their life. Many children in the foster care system still need such advocates. If CASA is an organization you would like to be part of, please visit https://casaswmo.org/ or https://nationalcasagal.org/ to find out how you may be able to help.
We encourage everyone to reach out and become leaders in service of community. Every community has those in need and those who can help. Every community can be strong when it stands together.