This September CASA of New Hampshire welcomed six new volunteer advocates to CASA following our North Country training in Littleton. The North Country is an area that is always in significant need of more volunteers advocates to be the voice in court for abused and neglected children. These volunteer advocates have successfully finished the 40-hour required training and are now ready to take their first cases.
The comprehensive training serves to provide trainees an understanding of their role as CASA volunteer advocates. They are provided an overview of the CASA program, given a brief history of national child protection laws and how they came to be and receive training on New Hampshire laws. This serves as a foundation for the rest of their training. New volunteer advocates are also provided information cultural and social/health issues they may encounter while working on a case, which can help them understand the different types of homes that the children they will serve come. Volunteer advocates find this as a way to check their own personal biases so when they do advocate in court they are able to speak for the child’s best interests and not to their own personal beliefs. Most importantly advocates learn about the support system they have as advocates.
The role of CASA volunteers can be daunting at first. Many advocates worry about the time commitment, emotional effect and wonder if they have the qualifications. During training volunteer advocates are introduced to the strong support system behind them as they perform their work. Between CASA program managers, peer coordinators, support groups and on-going trainings, new volunteers are ensured that they will never be alone to face a problem on their case.
Now that they have finished their training, these advocates will be assigned their first case. With a growing need for volunteer advocates, due in part to New Hampshire’s drug epidemic, these individuals will find that they have an immediate role in New Hampshire’s family court system to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children.
As a final task during training, advocates are asked to write a message to their future child.