Are you ready to make a difference for children in your community? We have new volunteer trainings throughout the year so you can start immediately. Fill out the volunteer application below to start your journey today.
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2021 TRAINING SCHEDULE
Rogers County..................January 4 (FLEX)
Delaware County..............February 2
Rogers County..................April 3
Ottawa County..................June 7
Rogers County...................July 12 (FLEX)
Delaware County..............September 14
Rogers County..................October 2
Ottawa County..................November 4
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Our organization always appreciates the generosity and involvement of people like you, with every contribution going towards making CASA of Northeast Oklahoma an even better Non-Profit Organization than it already is. We want to provide you with the correct and appropriate information pertaining to your mode of support, so don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions.
Frequently asked questions
What is a Court-Appointed Special Advocate?
Court-Appointed Special Advocates (also known as CASA volunteers) are ordinary citizens like you who care about children and have volunteered their time and talent to be trained, bacground-checked, sworn-in by a judge, and supervised by CASA staff to speak up for the best interests of abused and neglected children.
Are CASA volunteers mentors?
CASA volunteers are much more than mentors. They are sworn friends of the court, appointed by a juvenile court judge to advocate one-on-one for children or youth who are victims of abuse and neglect and living temporarily in the foster care system. Volunteer advocates can significantly influence a child or youth’s life during the journey from foster care to a safe, permanent, nurturing home. Through their advocacy efforts, CASA volunteers provide hope, increased opportunity, consistency, and a better life for children and youth in the court’s care. They help end the cycle of abuse and neglect — making a difference in each child’s life and for generations to come.
What are the basic requirements for becoming a CASA volunteer?
All CASA volunteers must complete CASA of Northeast Oklahoma’s online application, screening interview, extensive background check process, and Pre-Service Training. CASA volunteers must be at least 21 years of age and must be willing and able to relate to people of different cultural backgrounds. It is important that volunteers have effective oral and written communication skills, and it is required that they maintain objectivity and keep confidential the identity of the children, their families, and court records. They must adhere to the mission, policies and guidelines of CASA of Northeast Oklahoma and comply with all directives from the assigned Advocate Coordinator.
How often do CASA volunteers see the child?
The frequency of visits with children depends on such factors as the child’s circumstances, the distance of the placement, and the age of the child. Typically, you will meet with your child every two to three weeks. All volunteers must make at least one monthly visit (every 30 days) to each child assigned.
How many volunteer hours a month does it take to be a CASA?
It varies from person to person, case to case. But on average, the minimum time spent is 8 to 10 hours per month. Most of the volunteer’s work can be scheduled at the convenience of the volunteer. The CASA Advocate Coordinator will help you determine what activities are necessary and how much time to allot to each one.
What is the length of my commitment to CASA of Northeast Oklahoma?
The minimum commitment is 18 months. However, case duration will vary. Good CASA volunteers want to see each child through to a safe, permanent placement.
Once I've taken a case, where do I begin?
You will meet with your Advocate Coordinator first and he or she will give you a brief history of the children and current disposition of the case. You will be given some paperwork to review and you should read through it thoroughly. The first person you call is the child’s caseworker to discuss current case circumstances and where the child(ren) are located. Next, you will want to arrange your first meeting with your child(ren). Then you will want to visit with the child’s attorney, foster parents, the natural parents, teachers and other educational professionals, the therapist (if applicable), and other authority figures in the child’s life, in order to gain as much information about each child as possible. Be sure to carry extra copies of your court order with you. You can make extra copies of your court order at the CASA office.
My social worker does not return my phone calls. What should I do?
You should not expect a social worker to be at their desk all the time. The best course of action is to ask them up front how they prefer to be contacted and to discuss emergency contact procedures. It is important that when you do call the caseworker, that you leave a clear and concise message in addition to your name and number for contact. Leaving your cell phone number is usually the best course of action. Be sure to advise when is the best time for the social worker to reach you. However, if a caseworker is consistently not returning calls and messages in a timely manner, reach out to your Advocate Coordinator for help.
Why do I get several calls from the CASA staff regarding my child?
CASA of Northeast Oklahoma maintains a professional staff of Advocate Coordinators who care about the children and volunteers assigned to them. Our theory is that you cannot communicate too much. Deprived court matters are very detailed in nature and there are many moving parts. Keeping volunteers informed and updated about the cases assigned, as well as sharing paperwork received from other parties is a top priority. We would not want you to miss anything.
Where will I go to court?
It depends on which district court you are assigned to. All district court hearings are held at the county courthouse. The Rogers County Courthouse is in Claremore; Mayes County Courthouse is in Pryor; Craig County Courthouse is in Vinita; Ottawa County Courthouse is in Miami; Delaware County Courthouse is in Jay; and the Washington County Courthouse is in Bartlesville. The Quapaw Nation’s Tribal Court is held in the community room at the tribal headquarters. Your Advocate Coordinator will provide you with the address of the courthouse and detailed instructions once you are in the building. Courtroom decorum will be covered during your Pre-Service Training.
Do the judges really read my reports and consider my opinions?
Yes. Judges rely on CASA volunteers for the most up-to-date and accurate information about the child. This is invaluable to them in making the best possible decision for the child. Your written Report to the Court becomes a permanent part of the case file.
What else does a CASA volunteer do besides visit the child?
CASA volunteers gather information and prepare reports regarding the best interests and needs of the child. CASA volunteers are appointed to their child by a judge and have access to confidential information such as school, medical, and therapy records. CASA volunteers also speak to DHS caseworkers, Indian Child Welfare caseworkers, therapists, counselors, teachers, and other service providers on a regular basis to determine what each child needs to grow and develop. You will also help locate resources for the child.
What kind of support would I have from the CASA staff?
CASA provides a professional Advocate Coordinator for direct support. The Advocate Coordinator is able to provide information about your child’s case, court information, reports and rules about the CASA program. Your Advocate Coordinator wants you to be successful in your work. He or she will provide you with information about policy changes, continuing education, activities for you and your CASA youth, and other information that might concern your involvement with CASA. If you need immediate assistance and you cannot reach your Advocate Coordinator, call the Assistant Director or Executive Director.
Should I be concerned about my safety?
Not any more so than on a typical day. CASA volunteers (and all people, really) should practice situational awareness. In general, this means you should never go anywhere without letting someone know approximately where you are going and what time to expect your return. You should have your cell phone with you at all times, charged, and ready to use. You should know exactly where you are going and how to get there and if you do not, you need to make a dry run past the property. You should be aware at all times of your surroundings and you should leave immediately if something doesn’t look or feel right. In our experience, dogs and other animals in and around homes are often the greatest threat to the safety of CASA volunteers. Dogs instinctively protect their owners and their property, so use care when near animals, even small animals who seem friendly. It is perfectly appropriate for you to ask the pet owner to put the animal in a backyard or to crate or barricade the animal in another room. It is important to note that if you are working with family members who have criminal history or convictions for violent crime, those family members likely would not be considered as placement options for children and you are under no obligation to interview them or go to their home. Your Advocate Coordinator will help you make wise decisions and will accompany you, if warranted.
Where do the foster children live?
Foster children live in traditional foster homes, kinship placements, and in trial reunification with one or both of their natural parents. Some live at therapeutic homes, group homes, or treatment facilities. Some have been there just a few days and some several months. Getting to know the rules and behavioral programs in the home where your child is living is important. Always develop educated and meaningful relationships with the placement providers.
What kinds of activities should I do with my CASA youth?
This depends greatly on the age and interests of the child, as well as your own interests and the guidelines of their caregivers. Find out what the youth enjoys doing and plan to do those activities at your next visit. Art projects are always fun for children and CASAs to do together. Bring a game, puzzle, or a ball or Frisbee to your next visit.
May I give gifts to my youth?
CASA of Northeast Oklahoma discourages extravagant gift giving. However, modest gifts are allowed on birthdays and special holidays. Please consult the Volunteer Policies and Procedures for parameters around gift-giving. You must always complete an Optima Contact Log when you give a gift.
May I take my child on a car ride or to a fun event?
No. CASA of Northeast Oklahoma volunteers are prohibited from transporting children. This activity creates unnecessary liability for the program and for the volunteer.
Why can't I take youth to my home, bring my family on a visit or take the youth to my place of employment?
The short answer is that these types of activities breach the child’s confidentiality and create unnecessary liability for the program and for the volunteer. It is essential that you, as the volunteer, carefully construct boundaries to protect yourself from losing your objectivity. Additionally, being the only adult with the child opens you up to the potential for accusations of inappropriate behavior, which even if unfounded, could have a devastating impact on your personal and professional reputation. Always speak to your Advocate Coordinator before taking any of these actions.
What if I can't be a CASA volunteer but still want to help?
This is a great question! There are many ways to support CASA of Northeast Oklahoma. You can serve on our Board of Directors or on one of our work groups. You can attend or help with special events and fund raising activities. If you find that donating your time is not possible, a financial donation is always welcome. Please visit our website – www.casaneok.org and click on the Donate Now button.
For more information about volunteering with CASA of Northeast Oklahoma, or if you have other questions not covered in this FAQ, please contact us at (918) 923-7276 or (918) 544-6452. Or, go to our website, www.casaneok.org. You can also reach out by email to email@example.com.