Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program Volunteer Training Information

Potential CASA Volunteers must participate in a volunteer interview with a CASA staff member. During this interview, the potential volunteer will learn more about the program and about what would be expected if he or she continues on to become a CASA Volunteer. This is also an opportunity for both the organization and the volunteer to determine if he or she will be invited to participate in the training session.

The Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program requires that each volunteer accepted to training participate in at least 32 hours of initial training. Trainings are developed to ensure that each new CASA volunteer has a clear understanding of the role of CASA, of the child welfare system and juvenile court system and of the issues faced by the families served by the program.

Training sessions are typically offered in the spring and fall and are scheduled during weekday evenings, twice per week with one possible Saturday session. Potential volunteers must also observe a court hearing. Trainings are only offered to potential volunteers who have participated in an initial volunteer interview with a staff member and have been invited to participate in the training.

Each training session varies, however the training sessions cover the following topics:

  • The CASA Volunteer Role
    • The rules and regulations of Virginia CASA programs.
    • National CASA Standards
    • Principles and Concepts that guide CASA Volunteer Work
    • A CASA Volunteer’s job description
    • The CASA Volunteer code of ethics.
  • Permanency in Foster Care Law-
    • The Child Advocacy Movement and the Mary Ellen Wilson story of how the child welfare system came into being.
    • Current and new child welfare laws.
    • The Adoptions and Safe Families Act of 1997 and an understanding of the ASFA timeline.
    • The Roles in a Juvenile Court Case
  • An understanding of Human services, the role of social workers and an understanding of the child abuse investigations process.
  • An understanding of the mandated reporting law, how to make reports of child abuse or neglect and what happens after a report is made.
  • Understanding Substance Abuse
    • Understanding the cycle of addiction
    • An understanding of currently popular drugs
    • The impact of substance abuse on children and families
  • Cultural awareness
    • Examining our own beliefs, biases and stereotypes
    • Interacting effectively with families from other cultures and backgrounds
    • Understanding and working with different perspectives
    • Current immigration issues
  • Establishing rapport with children
    • Understanding child development stages and approaches to dealing with different age groups
    • The importance of following through with kids
  • Mental health and families
    • The impact of mental illness on children and families
    • Tools for researching varying mental health diagnosis
    • The role of the mental health department
    • Mental health stigmas and challenges faced by families with mental health issues
    • Mental health statistics
  • Understanding family perspectives
    • Understanding the many different kinds of families
    • Understanding the courts definition of “family”
    • The importance of family to a child
    • The importance of engaging families in the child welfare process
  • The strength-based perspective – a positive approach to working with families
    • Understanding how to approach families with a positive attitude
    • Looking for the strength in every family and building on each family’s strengths
  • Research and Information Gathering
    • Who to talk to and what to ask
    • A review of case assignments
    • The importance of confidentiality
    • Sample case assignment
  • Court report writing
    • Court report writing and what is expected of a CASA volunteer
    • Tips for effective court report writing
    • Appearing in court
  • Domestic Violence and Families
    • The cycle of violence wheel
    • The perspective of a victim of domestic violence and why they stay in violent relationships.
    • The impact of domestic violence on children, families and society
  • Understanding Poverty
    • The facts for children
    • The difficulties families in poverty face and how difficult it can be to get out of poverty
  • Understanding Child Development
    • The needs of children
    • Permanence for children
    • Healthy and unhealthy attachment and separation anxiety
    • What is “normal” child development and signs to look for when working with children
  • Communicating Effectively as a CASA Volunteer
    • The use of body language
    • Effectively dealing with conflict
    • Collaboration building strategies
    • The importance of confidentiality
  • The Effects of Trauma on Children
    • Understanding child abuse and neglect
    • The ways that trauma can impact children
  • Current CASA Volunteer Presentations
    • Learn from the experiences of current CASA volunteers
    • An opportunity to ask your questions directly to a CASA volunteer
  • An Introduction to the different kinds of service providers
    • ACRONYMS 101
    • Understanding who is who in the system
  • Success stories from past CASA case parents
    • An opportunity to hear from a parent’s perspective the issues that families are facing, their view on the role of CASA and that parents and children can come out of the system successfully
  • Panel Interviews
    • A final opportunity to ask questions and to ensure that you ready to become a CASA volunteer
    • An opportunity to ensure that both the volunteer and organization feel that they have a good match