Then there is the emotional commitment. CASAs agree that it is impossible not to become attached to the children, not to care deeply about their plight. Yet they must distance themselves.For instance, CASAs are not allowed to give children gifts, provide transportation, or initiate physical contact. Once the child’s case has been resolved, the CASA must say goodbye and not initiate further contact with the child or family members. Some children will invite their CASAs to their graduation or birthday parties after their case is dismissed, which is acceptable and meaningful to both parties.
The work itself can take a toll on volunteers and staff. Representing a child in a court of law offers a rare insight into the severe domestic issues that plague so nmany families. Decisions made by court officials and social workers often seem unfair to the child, or not in the child’s best interests. The CASA can influence a matter by submitting regular reports to the court and making a recommendation. The court makes the decisions, not the CASAs.
Children ‘will tear at your heartstrings’
Judy Walter, a CASA Volunteer since 2014, says representing children has changed her life, as well as redirected the lives of the children. But she agrees it is not for everyone. Yet for the right person, there is no more rewarding volunteer opportunity.
“I’ve lost some sleep, shed some tears, but have never considered quitting. These kids and families need CASA volunteers like me,” she says. “It’s a deep commitment and it will tear at your heartstrings. But these children can get lost without that consistent, caring adult in their lives.”
In Clark County, CASA is a program of YWCA Clark County, which provides support services and funding for the local group.
But dedicated volunteers represent the true heart of Clark County CASA. If you think you can make a difference by standing up for a lonely, frightened child, contact CASA today.
We will get you started down the road to a rich, rewarding volunteer experience.