YOU CAN BE A CASA VOLUNTEER
OUR KIDS NEED YOU!
Today there are 277 children in need of advocacy in Cowlitz County, and only 83 of them have a volunteer assigned to their case. The remaining 194, or 70%, of abused and neglected children in our county are being monitored by staff! These are the most vulnerable members of our community and they need someone like you to invest in them, so we can advocate for the happy, healthy, and PERMANENT home that every child deserves.
Our initial training includes 24 hours of class time, in addition to some reading and homework. Training is typically held once a week from 5:30-8:30 pm for 8 consecutive weeks. Once training is complete, you will work with a volunteer supervisor to select a child or sibling group to be your assigned case. Your supervisor will help you become familiar with the case and arrange for you to meet those involved.
We ask our volunteers to visit with their child or sibling group at least once a month, connect with the case social worker, school, and placement regularly, observe visitation or planning meetings, and to come in to the office to read up on information relating to your child(ren). Every six months or so, you will write a report to the court offering your factual observation of how the child(ren) are doing and advocate for what the child needs at that time. Your volunteer supervisor will help you write your reports—you will always have support!
Some of our volunteers work full time, so we can accommodate most any schedule. The primary requirement of becoming a CASA volunteer is a willingness to make a difference in the life of children that need you.
YOU CAN ALSO SERVE CASA IN OTHER WAYS
Not feeling ready to take on a case, but still want to help? If you would like to serve in a role other than a CASA, we can use your help! Here are a few ideas…
You might have other ideas of ways you can help the program, give us a call to discuss your ideas!
MEET A CASA – Rick Ensign
Seven years ago Rick Ensign had a conversation with Terri Willis, the wife of his boss at Waste Control, about her joy in being a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. Shortly after, a CASA supervisor spoke at Rick’s church, Exodus in Longview, about the important role of a CASA and the need for more in our community.
Hearing the message twice in a short time period, Rick saw the handwriting on the wall. “It sounded like something I should do, “ Rick said recently. “I’ve always had a soft spot for kids…they need a voice and I knew I could speak for them.”
Rick looks at his six-year career knowing he has “made a difference.” One of his first cases was his most memorable. “I was working with a family with several kids and the feeling of many involved in this case was that the kids should be with the mom. But I felt the father was the best choice,” Rick recalled.
“As we worked through it everyone else also agreed it was best for these kids to be with dad.” The court ultimately agreed and the kids stayed with dad. “He turned his life around, went back to college and is doing well,” Rick says happily.
Rick will tell you that the first time in court can be eye-opening for a CASA. “I was taught by my dad to respect authority, so it was nerve-wracking the first time I went in front of a judge as a CASA. What made it easier was Judge Jill (Johansen) was awesome and I could tell that she cared for the kids too,” Rick said.
Just like Terri and that speaker at Exodus seven years ago, Rick encourages others to consider being a CASA. “It’s a not a decision to take lightly. There is heartache sometimes. But there is not a better feeling than knowing you’ve been the voice of the child. The good of being a CASA definitely outweighs any frustrations.”
We have great volunteers that make CASA a success. Thanks Rick for sharing your story!
COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES
(CASA): A voice for children - here and across the nation
Cowlitz County CASA provides leadership and training for its volunteers who are tasked with being the voice of abused and neglected children in the dependency court system. Every dependent child in Cowlitz County is assigned a CASA through our local program. No child is turned away!
A CASA is a trained volunteer who represents children as they are taken through the legal process. We focus on the best interests of the child.
We need more great volunteers!
Cowlitz County CASA has many great volunteers, serving children and families in 250 active cases. Our volunteers are working hard and successfully on behalf of the kids – but we need more.
What is a CASAs Role?
Investigate the case and informs the court
Helps identify resources to address a child's special needs
Recommends temporary and permanent plans for the child