To the editor:
I am writing in hopes of catching the eye of someone special who wants to be a voice for abused and neglected children in New Hampshire. In our state and community we are in dire need of more CASA advocates. A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate who becomes the voice of an abused or neglected child in court.
Becoming a CASA will require you to complete 40 hours of training with other people who are working toward the same goal of becoming an advocate. There are local training sessions held throughout the state throughout the year.
Once training is complete, you will be assigned a case that is currently entering the court system. As a CASA, you will meet with the child and get to know his or her story so you will be able to make recommendations about what is best for that child. You will work closely with the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, and others involved in the child’s life such as parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors or foster parents. You will meet with the child each month and be a voice for that child when their court hearings come. You will write a report for each hearing stating what you think is best for that child at that time. The report will also include information about the child so that the judge can see the personality of the child.
I heard about CASA through the commercials that were playing on the radio. I thought that it would be something that I would like to do, but was unsure if I could manage that on top of my full-time job and being a mom. After a few months of hearing the commercials and thinking about doing it each time, I finally called and made an appointment to talk with some CASA volunteers and peers. I spoke to my employer, as I was going to need time off for training. They were totally supportive. I was still unsure about fitting it into my schedule. I have a one hour lunch period and I use that time to meet with my child or children as well as for court hearings.
I have been a CASA volunteer for about five years and I have completed five cases. Each case has been drastically different with different circumstances leading to DCYF involvement and different outcomes. I am proud to say that at the conclusion of each of my cases, I feel like the outcome was what is in the best interest of the child or the children. That is what it is all about! Those children will grow up to be happy and in loving homes with a chance at a great life. This is truly a life-changing role in the life of young people in New Hampshire and for the CASA volunteers as well!
I urge you, if you are interested in getting more information about becoming a CASA, to go to casanh.org. There is a training starting in the North Country on May 8. If you are interested in getting into that training class, get the process started by applying today to become an advocate at casnh.org/onlineapplication.