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 CASA Volunteers or CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates). 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.
What is our volunteer team?
We train community volunteers to advocate for these children in foster care.
What does an advocate do?
Child Advocates get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others to inform judges and others of what the child needs in order to be safe. Our Land of Enchantment may be ranked at the bottom in many categories but we rank high in love.
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 commitment for 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.
Who can be a Child Advocate?
CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. No special education, experience or background is needed.
You must 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 CASA volunteer.
How do I get trained?
We will provide you with all the training and support you need to serve as an effective advocate.
CASA training consists of on line and in person training over a 5 week period.
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 .