Every child in foster care will have a fierce and skilled CASA champion by their side. That’s our vision. But what does it take to support a community volunteer on their journey to becoming skilled?
To start, every CASA volunteer completes 30 hours of preservice training. This National CASA training, provided by our very own Ryan Brashears and Tara Marcom, offers an incredible overview of foster care, the systemic issues surrounding abuse and neglect, court report writing, and powerful case studies. Following the completion of training, each advocate is assigned a staff supervisor who provides additional, case-specific, on-the-job training.
The more knowledgeable our volunteers are about available services and resources, the struggles parents face, and the health conditions commonly seen in children, the more powerful their advocacy will be. That’s why after their first year of service, each volunteer must also complete 12 hours of continuing education per year.
Because there are so many facets to the world of child welfare, we often collaborate with people from other agencies and organizations who are experts in their field and willing to share their knowledge with our volunteers. Here are a few of our partners who graciously offered their time to educate our volunteers this past year:
“Autism Spectrum Disorder” – Dr. Aleza Green (She’s also a CASA volunteer!)
Tour of the Teen Action and Support Center – Jacqueline Perez, TASC
“Hispanic and Latinx Culture” – Diana Gonzalez, One Community
“Hidden in Plain Sight” – Caren Cox and Kat Pavon, Our Healthy Communities
“Drug Trends in NWA” – Detective Tyler Moore, Fayetteville Police Department
“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” – Tamara Keech, Arkansas None for Nine
“Illuminating the Darkness of Sexual Exploitation” – Gretchen Smeltzer and Christy Williams, Into the Light
“The Court Timeline” – Tammy Mullins, Arkansas Office of the Courts
Tour of the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter and Hope Academy – Jake Gibbs, NWACS
“Adoptions” – Daniela Salamo, Benton County DHS
“Recognizing, Reporting, and Preventing Child Maltreatment” – Casey Atwood, Children’s Safety Center
We’d like to thank these individuals and organizations for empowering our volunteers to be the best advocates they can be for children in foster care!