What is a Child Advocate?

A Child Advocate is a court appointed, trained and committed adult who ensures that each child’s individual needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. Child Advocates are also known as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life in order to make independent and informed recommendations to help the judge decide what’s best for the child.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Guardian Ad Litem is an attorney paid by the state in New Mexico to represent children in protective services.

Who makes up our volunteer team?

Our volunteers are an incredible team of compassionate people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Experience with the legal and foster care system is not necessary.

People volunteer for many reasons. It may be to support a cause they are passionate about or to engage in their community. We often volunteer to help groups or individuals who need it the most without expecting any reward. Most of us want to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We do not volunteer, for the most part, because it benefits us. We volunteer because it makes a difference. Read some of our child advocate stories of why they volunteer.

What is the impact of a Child Advocate?

Our volunteers serve children who have been hurt by the people who should keep them safe, their parents. This profound hurt affects their education, health and general well being. Being hurt is trauma that has touched all of us in some way. Why do some people flourish and others languish? Studies show that it is important to have a consistent person who hears your voice and is there for you. For many abused children, their Child Advocate is the only constant adult presence in their lives.

What are some of the requirements to become a Child Advocate?

Our best volunteers are good listeners with a wealth of empathy, however, you must also be at least 21 years of age and be able to pass extensive reference, Child Protective Services, sex offender registry and criminal background checks before becoming a Child Advocate.

How do I get trained?

You will begin training to learn how to be a successful advocate for a foster child. Training includes 20 hours of a combination of classroom training over a 5-week period, along with 10 hours of on the job training with your Advocate Coach.

Training topics include: Understanding Children; The Law, the Child Protection System & the Courts; Cultural Competence; Domestic Violence & Family Strengths; Poverty & Substance Abuse; Trauma Informed Care & Mental Health Issues; Family Finding & Educational Advocacy; Honoring Tribal Connections and Educational Advocacy.