When our kids enter the system, they have already experienced the complex trauma of abuse and neglect. The coronavirus is another significant stressor. As a result, the difficulties of the pandemic and sheltering in place affects our kids more acutely. At the same time, their support systems are being compromised with school disruption, economic hardship, loss of community, and loss of social supports. Throughout the pandemic, Piedmont CASA Volunteers have been maintaining and strengthening crucial connections with their children and families, and they have been helping to ensure that other important supports are not lost, despite the pressure of isolation.
Piedmont CASA staff and Volunteers are designated Essential Workers by the Commonwealth of Virginia
Throughout the pandemic and sheltering in place, our work has continued unabated, though it has entailed an
enormous shift to virtual.
In a matter of weeks, we increased our capacity for remote access, thus ensuring unbroken connections between CASA Volunteers, Bridges Coaches, kids and their families. We also installed new software so that all sensitive communications, such as court reports, could be safely emailed.
In addition, we provided masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves to our staff and Volunteers, as well as to the children and families we serve.
You can read more about the experiences of the Piedmont CASA team in our Spring Newsletter: Keeping the Lights on for Piedmont CASA Kids.
What do CASA Volunteers do?
Each Volunteer works with only one child or sibling group. This focus ensures that the child comes first, that his or her needs and desires remain at the forefront of case planning and judicial proceedings. CASA Volunteers interview parents, caretakers, foster parents, social workers, therapists, educators, and other service providers. They attend service-planning meetings and Family Partnership Meetings. They meet with the child in a variety of settings at least once a month. CASA Volunteers collaborate extensively with social workers and treatment providers to ensure that all parties stay informed about progress and issues in each case, and that the children receive the services they need. Their investigations culminate with fact-based reports to the judge that include recommendations on how best to meet the needs of each child.
Conduct independent investigations.
Submit written reports with recommendations to the Court.
Collaborate extensively with other organizations and professionals working on the case.
Aid guardian ad litem in providing effective legal representation.
Monitor the case to ensure the Court’s orders are followed and the child is receiving needed services.
Report suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services.
How do men and women in our community become Piedmont CASA Volunteers?
CASA Volunteers are men and women who come from all walks of life and backgrounds. They range in age from 21 to 70+. They are high school graduates and PhDs. They are compassionate, objective, and self-motivated. We are always recruiting new Volunteers using every avenue available to us, from public service radio spots to television interviews to newspaper stories to social media announcements. We distribute posters and flyers, and seize any opportunity to speak publicly about our mission and the ongoing need for CASA Volunteers. Our Board, Friends of CASA, and donors also help to spread the word.
Screening + Training
CASA Volunteers must be at least 21 and must complete a written application, participate in personal interviews, and undergo extensive background checks.
Piedmont CASA Volunteers must also successfully complete a specific training course based on an enhanced version of the National CASA Association curriculum. This 42-hour course incorporates a Virginia case study that provides students with hands-on experience. Classes also cover cultural and ethnic diversity; the social, psychological, and medical components of child abuse and neglect; the juvenile court system; the policies and procedures of child protective services and foster care; and the policies and procedures of the CASA program. Training includes investigation and advocacy techniques, court-report writing, and community resources.
Professionals who shared their knowledge and experience in FY20 Volunteer Training sessions
Marnie Allen Community Attention Foster Families
Dina Blythe Foothills Child Advocacy Center
Kristen Carty LCSW
Brian Chan, Esq.
Morgan Cox, Guardian ad litem
Stephen Gilliand Charlottesville Department of Social Services
Charlene Green Office of Human Rights/City of Charlottesville
Laura Handler Family Treatment Court -- Region10
Peter Jenkins, Esq.
Bridget Mahoney People Places
Archer Maness LPC
William Marshall, Esq.
Helen Mays Charlottesville Department of Social Services
Cayla Morris Albemarle County Department of Social Services
Paige Nolt LCSW
Kelly Rodgers Albemarle County Department of Social Services
21 New CASA Volunteers in FY20
Fall Training Graduates
On December 3, 2019, Judge David M. Barredo swore in new CASA Volunteers. Front row from left to right: Gail McDermott, Erika Fernandez Lopez, Debra Knox, and Megan Maloney. Back row: Kaeleigh Olsen, Mike Graf, Hannah Anderson, Elyse Woods, Danielle Santiago, Bill Murray, Kip Newland, Matthew "Scovie" Martin, and Michael Richards. Seated in the back: Judge Barredo. Not shown: Nancy Mack.
Spring Training Graduates - our first Zoom class!
On June 9, 2020, Judge Barredo inducted our first Zoom class of graduates: Charles Beard, Doug Campbell, Ted Coates, Chris Kabbash, Kersti Kolu, Jenna Lipscomb, and Cody Ramey.