Volunteer Curriculum

Child Advocate Training

All CASA Volunteers have access to the material detailed in this curriculum, developed by the National CASA/GAL Association. It gives volunteers a solid base of knowledge and skills to begin their volunteer work, and serves as a guide during the mandated pre-service training.  The curriculum is an important resource for volunteers throughout their service.

Curriculum elements include:

  • Content:  The centerpiece of each chapter, presented in a variety of ways to appeal to different learning styles.
  • Case Studies:  Encourage learners to apply their new knowledge to a case in a safe, practice environment.
  • Homework:  Assigned throughout the training.
  • Resource materials:  Allow for more in-depth exploration of a topic.
  • Glossary:  Defines curriculum terms, as well as those common to volunteer advocacy work.

The Goals of the CASA Curriculum

You’ll gain new insight and knowledge of child abuse, the court system, and CASA volunteer work as a whole.  Each of these areas targets a specific area of study, with the following objectives:

Introducing the CASA/GAL Volunteer Role

  • Explore the goals and purpose of volunteer training
  • Learn to recognize child abuse and neglect
  • Introduction to roles and responsibilities of a CASA volunteer

Introducing the Law, the Child Protection System & the Courts

  • Increase understanding of child abuse and neglect and development of child advocacy laws
  • Learn about laws, child protection system and court procedures

Developing Cultural Competence

  • Become familiar with current thinking about cultural competence, diversity and the adverse effects of bias and discrimination
  • Better understand cultural influences and personal biases
  • Increase cultural competence and sensitivity in volunteer work

Understanding Families, Part 1

  • Learn a strengths-based approach to understanding families and children
  • Understand child abuse and neglect indicators and risk factors
  • Consider how stress, mental illness and domestic violence impact families

Understanding Families, Part 2

  • Increase understanding of families and ability to assess family situations of children
  • Consider how issues of substance abuse and poverty impact families and children

Understanding Children

  • Learn about child development, attachment, separation and loss, permanence and resiliency
  • Become familiar with educational, emotional and psychological issues that affect children

Communicating as a CASA/GAL Volunteer

  • Practice communication skills needed to interview and observe children, deal with conflict and work collaboratively with others on a case
  • Increase understanding of confidentiality and privacy issues

Practicing the CASA/GAL Volunteer Role – Gathering Information

  • Learn about the elements of a child’s court case
  • Become familiar with court forms
  • Practice skills necessary to gather necessary information

Practicing the CASA/GAL Volunteer Role – Reporting and Monitoring

  • Practice skills necessary to write an effective court report, appear in court and monitor a case

Putting It All Together

  • Identify volunteer self-care methods
  • Become familiar with local office procedures
  • Revisit importance of focusing on the child’s needs