Download the volunteer_application Here
Download the volunteer_interview Here
I am for the child who has attended eight schools in four years. Because he’s in foster care. Because his birth mother, debilitated by mental illness, neglected him. That is the child I am for. And because I am, he will be half as likely to languish in foster care, and that much more likely to find a safe, permanent home. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.
I am you.
There are abused and neglected children who live in the shadows of our lives…down the street…next door to your best friend…. These children live throughout our cities and towns here in Mendocino and Lake Counties. She may be the child who sits next to your grandson in his kindergarten class, the little girl who had to move homes and changes schools four times in the last year. He could be the lonely child who sits at the park everyday as you walk by, but who never joins in the game.
In California the overall rate of children who were in the foster care system in 2010 was 5.5 per 1,000 children. Sadly, during that same time both Mendocino and Lake Counties experienced substantially higher rates – 9.8 and 10.7 per 1,000 children respectively. That equates to nearly 350 children, being cared for by a system, rather than living with their own families. And, though that system is full of compassionate lawyers, judges, social workers and foster families, it is a system under constant strain, to the point where its ability to protect the rights of each child is often in jeopardy.
So, the little girl who has already suffered an abusive home enters the foster care system which places her in three or four different homes in a few months. Or, the two siblings who lost their mother to incarceration are split up and living three counties away from each other.
Things CAN turn out differently when you volunteer.
A child with a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer is more likely to find a safe, permanent home:
- More likely to be adopted
- Half as likely to re-enter foster care
- Substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
- More likely to have a plan for permanency, especially children of color
Children with CASA volunteers get more help while in the system…
- More services are ordered for the children.
… and are more likely to have a consistent, responsible adult presence.
- Volunteers spend significantly more time with the child than a paid attorney.
Children with CASA volunteers do better in school…
- More likely to pass all courses
- Less likely to have poor conduct in school
- Less likely to be expelled
… and score better on nine protective factors:
Neighborhood resources, interested adults, sense of acceptance, controls against deviant behavior, models of conventional behavior, positive attitude towards the future, valuing achievement, ability to work with others and ability to work out conflicts.
As a CASA volunteer, you will…
- Listen – Establish a stable connection with a child in the foster care system
- Get Involved – Gather information, write reports, and make recommendations to the court on what is in the best interest of the child
- Stand Up for a Child – Advocate to make sure the child receives the services and support needed in order to advance his or her well-being