Five Things to Know About Foster Care!
If you are considering entering the foster care system as a court appointed special advocate, or in any other role, there are several things to consider. The Foster Care system is a wonderful yet intricate organization that you need to do your research on as you consider entering. So here are the top five key things you should know about being a Court Appointed Special Advocate within the Foster Care system.
The first thing to consider is that a child is placed in foster care due to no fault of their own. The main reasons a child enters the system is because they have faced abuse, neglect, or abandonment and need a temporary arrangement until reunification with the child’s birth parents or guardians can be arranged. These children are like all others in simply needing a stable and healthy environment to grow up in. In the state of Mississippi, there are currently 5,284 children in foster care who will statistically spend over a year’s time with a foster family. Most of these children have experienced some level of trauma
Secondly, there is always a need for more volunteers in the foster care system. Whether this be foster families, child advocates, care coordinator, or family service specialists there is always room for more. For CASA of Lafayette County, there is a large need for more volunteer advocates as our program continues to grow. Our organization believes in breaking the cycle of abuse that these children can be involved in through volunteer advocacy in the court system. By representing a child and upholding their best interests, CASA of Lafayette County is able to Change A Child’s Story.
Another thing to know is the process it takes to become one of CASA’s volunteer advocates. Someone interested in getting involved would first need to fill out an application on the CASA of Lafayette County website to first determine if they meet all qualifications. After that, the volunteer advocates must complete a five-week training course. They complete 15 online training hours and 15 in-person training hours. The next upcoming training period for CASA of Lafayette County will be in January 2020. Once all is complete, the volunteers get sworn into the court system by a judge and celebrate their new opportunity to help a child.
The fourth thing to know is what exactly a Court Appointed Special Advocate does. Unlike other roles within foster care, it is the advocate’s job is to represent the children they are working with rather than take care of or mentor them. They learn every detail pertaining to the child’s case by talking with the child, the child’s peers, and adults in the child’s life. They will make recommendations to the judge of whether or not the child should be able to stay at their home or should be moved to a different location after they complete their investigation. This recommendation can be joined with any counseling that they think the child could benefit from. Every decision they make is motivated by the child’s best interest.
Lastly, when deciding whether or not to work within the foster care system, you must decide if you have enough support, time, and love to give to the children you will be interacting with. While not all of the children have experienced extreme hardships, many have and they will need lots of these things as you help them grow and succeed. Every position will be challenging but rewarding. Giving the time and energy you have to a child that needs you can rewrite their entire future. Being apart of a child's story changed will be worth it every time.