CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Our CASA volunteers take time to listen, offer recommendations to the courts, and strive to develop a trusted bond with the children we serve, so they know their voices will be heard. Being that one adult who is consistent and shows concern and who will answer their questions, assure them they are important and that their voice will be heard is what a CASA advocate can be for a child. At CASA of Sangamon County in Springfield, IL, we take the time to listen to our children, offer recommendations to the courts, and strive to develop strong bonds of trust, so our foster kids know we will always advocate for their best interests.
At CASA, we take pride in advocating for all of the children in our care and maintaining a reputation for dependability and professionalism. These children need consistency in their lives and adults they can count on to support them. Children removed from their homes and placed into the foster care system often feel overwhelmed and unsettled. The experience can be scary and traumatizing for a child, sometimes resulting in anxious, confused, or angry behavior, especially if they’ve been uprooted from chaotic homes.
Adults must be compassionate and patient when working with children in these stressful and delicate situations. It is vital that children feel safe, loved, supported, and heard; those are the goals our advocates strive to achieve for each child. To do this effectively, our advocates attend Individual Education Plans with teachers, Administrative Case Reviews, Child and Family Team Meetings, and Clinical Interventions for Placement Preservation. These meetings help us learn about each child’s education, family issues, and case oversights to help the children in our care best and advocate for them.
Our advocates are truly committed to the welfare of the children we support, and part of our job is to write detailed, factual reports to give the courts a clear understanding of each child’s situation. Our reports will always ensure professionalism, consistency, and objectivity. We’re here to state the facts and create a clear picture of our children’s specific challenges and goals. Our representatives attend all visits, meetings, and court hearings to advocate for the best interests of the CASA children we serve. We always keep the lines of communication open with our assigned children and all parties involved so we can find out what our kids need and offer necessary community resources for help. It is our job to complete our court reports and keep our Advocate Supervisors and Program Director up to date on each case.
A CASA advocate’s work begins with getting to know a child and his or her situation. As CASA volunteers, we all need to be invested in learning the needs of the foster children we support. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most schools required students to stay home and access the classroom virtually. However, not every foster care home could easily access enough computers or sufficient internet connections. In those situations, our CASA workers contacted DCFS and the local school district to discuss possible options.
In many cases, children could receive Chromebook computers to attend lessons and not fall behind in their education. By learning about our children and their situations, as well as the resources available in the community, our CASA advocates can keep up with the constant changes in the foster care system and the services available. If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, contact us today to learn more!
CASA workers are incredibly valuable to the community because they come from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds and have various professional and personal experiences that can aid them in helping the children they serve. Our volunteers are selected based on their levels of competence, commitment, and compassion. They must be patient and objective, as they will face various situations and be expected to handle them professionally. In Sangamon County, experience in the child welfare system is not necessary to become a CASA advocate. We offer volunteer training programs to educate you about the juvenile court system, and they are ongoing to continue to grow and enrich the education of our dedicated advocates. We will all continue to learn from each other and educate others. For more information on CASA and our rewarding volunteer program, call 217.522.2241.