What is CASA Community Counselor?
Throughout life we are faced with challenges. Some children experience trauma and stress. It is important for children to have a sense of belonging and support throughout their lives, especially when faced with stress and adversities. Children also need individuals to cheer them on when they experience joy and success. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Community Counselor empowers and supports children to assist them in navigating chronic stress, trauma, complex parental separations, and childhood adversities. As one adolescent youth stated, “You are like life coaches for children!”
According to the evidenced based research, those who experience trauma and chronic stress need to feel a sense of belonging and make healthy connections with people to aid and empower them to heal and flourish. A CASA Community Counselor demonstrates empathy and kindness while making connections with children to help them heal from complex trauma and adverse childhood experiences. At the same time, they become lifelong learners and good listeners about children and families, to advocate for what is in the best interest of children. Our CASA Community Counselors collaborate with communities, so together we can be a voice for children. A CASA Community Counselor makes connections with children for the overall well-being and the success of children and families.
Who Can Be a Volunteer?
Individuals who are empathetic and passionate about the rights and well-being of children. Compassionate community members who are willing to speak up regarding the welfare and equity of children can be good volunteer community counselor/advocate candidates.
Those who are culturally humble, good listeners and engaging with children, adults, and communities of diverse settings. Regardless of anyone’s background or circumstances, a CASA Community Counselor must have the ability to make healthy connections with children and families. In addition, an individual who is willing to speak up within the community, child welfare system, and Juvenile Courtroom, by being a voice for children experiencing complex trauma, childhood adversities, and social injustices.
Remember, children are the most vulnerable members of our community. The safety and well-being of children, families, and communities are of the utmost importance. A CASA Community Counselor must pass the required background checks. We offer a free training program and individuals who interview and successfully complete the training can be volunteers.
What does it take to be a CASA Volunteer?
It takes kindness, understanding, and empathy to work with children and families during the critical times of their lives. Furthermore, it takes good self-care and patience with yourself while learning to be a CASA community counselor, and be willing to participate in on-going training, supervision, and mentorship. You will be donating your time to make a difference in the lives of children within our communities.
What Else Should I Know?
You will be thoroughly trained and well-supported by professional staff to help you be an effective advocate for abused and neglected children in our community. A a community counselor and advocate serves to empower children and help them navigate through life’s challenges. While advocating for the well-being of children, you gain insight about yourself and will be an effective agent of change and have a positive effect on everyone.
What are the Next Steps to Learn More about Being a CASA Volunteer Child Advocate?
If you would like to know more, complete the Volunteer Interest Form and our Community Organizer will contact you.
What Our Volunteers Are Saying
“When I saw the difference that one person, one trusted adult, could make in the life of an at-risk child, I was drawn to CASA of Allegheny County and its mission of one-to-one involvement between highly trained volunteers and vulnerable children. How could I not get involved?” - CASA Community Volunteer
CASA community counselors give voice to the needs of kids who have been maltreated by a parent or caregiver. They build trusting relationships with them; serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the court; and make recommendations for educational, medical, and behavioral health services that will empower them to begin healing from their trauma, and, ultimately, to thrive.
Our focus is on providing a supportive, positive, and uplifting foundation for kids. As advocates within the court and child-serving systems, we help our CASA kids in self-exploration, develop the ability to tackle challenges, and build the knowledge to succeed. Through these community connections, CASA can provide the positive energy, outlook, and determination it takes for kids to flourish.
Need more urging to look into volunteering with CASA? In their own words, here are reflections on their experiences.
- "Volunteering as a CASA has been a challenge, but one that is rewarding. I know that I am making a difference, even if in a small way and even if I don't see the immediate outcome. It can be fulfilling, joyful, frustrating, overwhelming, sad, and happy all at the same time, sometimes even in the same week! But despite that, you are the one constant (in their lives) who doesn't change. You are the person holding all the information, following up, building relationships, and truly advocating, and at times pleading, on behalf of the child who likely wouldn't otherwise be heard." - CASA volunteer
- "I’m more aware of the world around me, and how the rules are different depending on your skin color, your socio-economic status, and/or educational level. I’ve always known the world operated like that but seeing it up close and personal can be jarring. I’ve become unafraid to point out injustice. I’ve also started to have “courageous conversations” about race and social justice with young adults. A topic I would have shied away from thinking “they are too young.” However, when you see a young man who is “too young” to deal with life’s injustices, it makes those conversations seem both mild and incredibly necessary." - CASA community advocate
- "The most rewarding part is that I can point to specific positive outcomes that were a result of my involvement. It really has meant the world to me to speak for a child and to have made things happen for the child that probably wouldn't have otherwise." - CASA community advocate
To learn more, fill out the Volunteer Interest Form and our Community Organizer will contact you.
PA CASA and the local programs throughout the Commonwealth provide a policy of equal opportunity to all volunteer applicants without regard to age, race, ethnicity, national origin (ancestry), color, religious belief (creed), gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, military/veteran status, political affiliation, disability or physical challenge, or any other prohibited status in accordance with all federal, state, and local laws. Our EEO policy applies to all areas of advocacy, including recruitment and selection, training and development, awards and recognition, termination, and recreational and social activities.
If you are interested in receiving general information about PA CASA, becoming a sponsor, or coordinating an event for our organization--we look forward to hearing from you!