Community members who raise their hands to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate make a big commitment. Becoming a CASA Volunteer is a serious and important step to help children who need you.
The commitment begins right away when we ask you to complete 35 hours of pre-service training, before
you ever even meet a child. That might seem like a lot, and it is, but it is important. Nationally, CASA Programs are required to offer 30 hours of pre-service training. Here in Athens County, we have lengthened the training requirement to provide additional hands-on experiences such as shadowing, court observation and a learning lab for trainees to practice new skills.
Why is the training so long?
We know, right? The upfront training commitment is intimidating and we know that it is sometimes a barrier to volunteering. But, training is important. It is critical that our CASA Volunteers are highly trained in a variety of topics and issues that face our children. We cover topics like domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health and child development.
We also provide training and education in the legal roles and responsibilities of CASA/GALs in Athens County. Pre-Service training also includes hands-on training... everything from shadowing current advocates to observing court hearings to practicing interview skills in the learning lab. Here at Athens CASA, we've emerged as leaders in training and excellence, producing highly trained, highly effective Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Our Learning Lab has been so successful that we've presented our "Learning Lab Toolkit" at national and state conferences and our local tools are now being utilized by programs across the country. We've also developed a training toolkits in the areas of confidentiality, rapport building and CASA's role in case planning.
Lastly, we are so fiercely committed to our high level of training and volunteer preparation because it is best for kids. Our Advocates emerge from training with a confident grasp on things like child safety, confidentiality and channels for advocacy.
If you're interested in joining our upcoming Fall 2018 Training Cohort, don't delay... applications are due this week. We have a brief orientation over lunch on September 25. Then we begin in person sessions, which will run every Thursday evening in October. In between sessions, trainees complete online readings and learning activities to prepare for class.
If you would like to apply to be considered for our fall cohort, please apply today at www.athenscasa.org/apply.