Overview of the CASA Volunteer Role/The RI Child Protection System

Offers a broad view of the course agenda.  Covers the roles and responsibilities of the CASA volunteer.  Provides an historical view of the child protection system, the importance of confidentiality, information about how cases of abuse and neglect come to the attention of RI DCYF (RI Department for Children, Youth and Families) and track through the RI DCYF system.  It also includes a general overview of how CASA and RIDCYF interact.

Introducing the Law

Provides a general overview of the Family Court system and the child protective court process.  The activities are designed to help the participants become more comfortable with the courtroom process and experience.

Family Systems and Development

Focuses on family dynamics and discusses risk factors (including substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness), the impact of poverty, parental substance abuse and domestic violence on children.  How these factors influence the ways a family copes with change, crisis and stress.  The bond children have with their families.  Activities in this chapter help the CASA volunteer recognize personal values and maintain objectivity regarding the risks for a child.  This chapter also helps the participants focus on the feelings and fears of the children for whom they will advocate.

Communicating and Interviewing Skills for CASA Volunteers

Names the basic elements of communication, recognizes the importance of observation in gathering information about children and identifies the elements of a successful child interview, reviews important skills for building rapport and trust with a child, applies a collaborative approach to dealing with conflict, identifies different styles of dealing with conflict and revisits the concept of confidentiality.

Exploring Cultural Awareness

Examines the dynamics of cultural differences.  Participants examine values and how values determine how a culture meets and defines basic needs.  Participants will identify their own values and relate them to those of other cultures.  Activities will give participants the opportunity to identify how language, class, and culturally bound values influence the recommendations concerning the child.  Participants are encouraged to gain competence in working cross culturally, identifying ways to become more sensitive to cultural diversity.

Practicing the CASA Volunteer Role – Working a Case

Reviews the process used to appoint a CASA volunteer to a case, creates and implements a strategy to gather information about a case, identifies the components of a successful interview and names community resources that might be effective in addressing the needs of a child.

Practicing the CASA Volunteer Role – Report Writing

Systematically organizes information pertinent to a case, synthesizes information to write an effective court report, utilizes all of the above recommendations about the needs of the child, identifies strategies for testifying and effectively presenting information in court, practices the steps to monitor a case from the dispositional order until the child is in a safe, permanent home.  Activities are designed to help the CASA create an effective court report and gain confidence in presenting information to the court.

Pulling it all Together – Forms and Wrap Up

Identifies the strategies for self-care, identifies safety tips for volunteers, reviews the role of the CASA program staff for volunteer supervision and support; reviews office procedures for case assignment, obtaining records, submitting court reports, revisits the need for an advocate for abused and neglected children.