LYNCHBURG, Va. – There is an urgent plea for more volunteers for CASA of Central Virginia. The demand for CASA volunteers currently surpasses the number of people they have available to help children in Central Virginia.
They currently have 82 children on the priority waiting list for someone to advocate for them. However, the number of children on the normal waiting list is even higher than that.
CASA of Central Virginia serves Lynchburg, Appomattox, Amherst, Bedford, Campbell and Nelson Counties.
Volunteers help advocate for children who are abused and neglected. They serve as a consistent presence in a child’s life during a scary time. CASA Volunteers investigate, collaborate and develop a deep understanding of a child’s needs. They share critical information with judges and make recommendations to help secure a permanent and safe home for these children.
Kelli Diaz, Recruitment and Development Director for CASA of Central Virginia, says, “We really have an urgent need for volunteers. We want these children to be represented in the best way that they can. Children do not go to court. Especially when they are under 12 years old, but essentially judges are making decisions for children that they don’t even know what they look like.”
As a CASA volunteer, you are providing a voice for children who can’t speak for themselves.
To become a volunteer, you first need to sign up for an information session. They are offered twice a month with the option of in-person or virtual. Next, you need to apply online and CASA will screen you with an in-person interview. Training to be a volunteer requires a 9-week course that meets once a week.
“After they go through the training session, we have an induction ceremony by one of our judges, which is one of my favorite things that we do. It is just a special thing and then after that they are assigned a supervisor and see the cases that are available in the localities they are serving and chose that case and get started,” says Diaz.
If CASA does not have enough volunteers to pun on a case, that case will move forward without someone to advocate for the child.
According to Diaz, children who have a CASA volunteer are 50% less likely to re-enter foster care.
Each training class can hold about 15 to 20 people. The next information session is on June 6 and June 22.