Our advocates are unique in the volunteer field because they undergo over 30 hours of classroom training. This allows our organization to stand out as a model of specialized experts, qualified and certified to provide excellent service.
Once a community member decides to become a CASA volunteer, our office conducts a personal interview with the perspective advocate, verifies character references, and conducts a thorough background check. Classes are assembled four to five times a year, where the new advocates spend two days a week for five weeks learning about child welfare and the juvenile court system. Each class is designed to both educate the volunteer and to provide an opportunity for discussion of concerns and observations.
Our training classes cover such topics as Cultural Competence, Minimal Parenting Standards, Juvenile Court Process, and the specifics of the CASA GAL Role. During training, several guest speakers address the class to speak about their expertise. Unparalleled insight is gained from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Champaign County CASA attorneys, and judges currently presiding over abuse and neglect cases. In addition, our trainer assembles a panel of experienced advocates to field questions from the new class.
The classroom is only part of the educational process. Our new advocates are required to observe six hours of courtroom hearings and four hours of one-on-one case planning with their supervisor. This solidifies the knowledge gained and makes the advocate more comfortable in an unfamiliar setting.