New Year CASA Resolution
The New Year typically brings resolutions ranging from going to the gym and eating healthier to working hard for a promotion. What resolutions have you made so far? I hope a resolution or two has you thinking about community engagement. What better way to engage your community and ring in 2019 than by setting goals to be the best CASA volunteer our children deserve.
After the stress of training has worn off and the rush of selecting your first CASA case has come and gone, it is easy to fall into patterns or habits that may have you forgetting your duties as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Let’s brush up on KRS 620.525, Duties of CASA Volunteers, to ensure we can meet our 2019 resolution of being the best CASA.
“Attending all court hearings except that the CASA volunteer may be excused by the court or the program director if emergency circumstances arise” can be cumbersome especially for volunteers employed or dealing with Jefferson County’s lengthy family court days. Attending court hearings, no matter how trivial, is a perfect opportunity to engage parties you’ve been struggling to meet. Maybe you haven’t been able to reach a birth parent, attorney, or social worker by phone or email, but they will be in court. Attending court gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and let that person know why it is so important that you have an open line of communication with them. You might learn you didn’t have the right contact information or they might apologize for overlooking calling you back. Advocacy requires persistence and some of the very best advocacy comes from face-to-face interaction.
Perhaps you’re feeling like you are the best CASA when it comes to attending court hearings. You might be thinking about how you could improve on visiting your CASA child more frequently. KRS 620.525 states CASA’s should “Monitor the case by visiting the child as often as necessary to observe whether the child's essential needs are being met and whether court orders are actually being carried out.” Our specific program, CASA of the River Region, directs volunteers to have face-to-face contact with your child(ren) at minimum once every two weeks. Take the opportunity in 2019 to get creative with spending time with your CASA child(ren). The CASA main office and county offices have various games, toys, enrichment activities for you to use. Take advantage of these items especially if you have a child struggling educationally. Get in quality time with your CASA child while helping reinforce topics being covered in school. Help make learning fun!
If you’re thinking, “so far so good” as you read this article, let us take a look at one more KRS objective. KRS 620.525 states CASA’s should “Work with the cabinet representatives to advocate the best interest of the child.” If this article leaves any lasting impression on you throughout your journey as a CASA in 2019, I hope it is this objective. It is imperative to keep in constant and consistent communication with social workers and service providers who are working with your CASA child(ren). Although, these are often the most difficult individuals to keep in contact. When first communicating with them, make sure to ask them what their preferred method of communication is and do your best to communicate with them in that manner. If you still struggle to get a response, problem solve with your CASA supervisor to come up with solutions. As mentioned, advocacy requires persistence. But, it is also important to be mindful of social workers’ and service providers’ time. Generally, having communication with these individuals on a monthly basis, especially before an upcoming court hearing, is sufficient. If you need a better understanding of what communication should look like with these individuals reach out to your supervisor for advice.
Let 2019 begin with you being the best CASA. Spend the new year attending all court hearings, visiting your CASA child often, and communicating regularly with social workers and service providers. If you consistently complete these three tasks throughout your CASA case, you are going on the road to success. For overachievers, make sure you spend 2019 completing every objective contained in KRS 620.525, Duties of CASA Volunteers.
Reference - http://www.lrc.ky.gov/statutes/statute.aspx?id=20232