Six New Hampshire residents and one legal intern completed CASA volunteer training in Lebanon on May 30th. These 7 individuals met in graciously donated space from Dartmouth Hitchcock over the course of 5 weeks to complete 40 hours worth of training to prepare them to be the voice for an abused or neglected child in the family court system.
Trained by CASA staff, these volunteers learned about their new role through presentations, case examples and role plays. They practiced standing up and speaking confidently to prepare for court, and worked on controlling biases to help them make decisions that are solely based on the best interest of the child. They learned about ongoing complications that have been happening throughout the state, such as parents with opioid addictions, and how to best react to the diverse families they may be working with.
As they move forward from training, these new volunteers will be taking cases from courts that they have chosen based on geographical relation to them. They will meet with their assigned child or children once a month, maintain contact with all important adults in the child’s life and give updates to the court about the child’s well being and needs. Through changing placements, case workers and school districts, CASA volunteers are often the one constant in the turbulent lives of victimized children. Their role is crucial in helping the child find a permanent, loving home that they can grow and succeed in.
In 2017, volunteers in Grafton County represented 80 children, but still cases involving 32 children had to be refused due to the lack of advocates in the region. With the addition of a new office and CASA staff member in Claremont, these 6 individuals will be filling a much needed gap as we strive towards representing 100% of New Hampshire’s victimized children.
At the end of training, advocates learned about a young girl named Zoe and her experience in the child protection system. They wrote positive messages of what they would have said if Zoe was their CASA kid. Congratulations and welcome to all!