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Community Partner Profile: CASA of Jackson County

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Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are a special kind of volunteer. They are adults who have stepped up to advocate for vulnerable children in the pursuit of safe and permanent homes. Often, these special volunteers are older adults. When a child is taken into protective custody, their volunteer advocate visits them monthly, advocates for the child's needs to be met, provides a voice in court for the child, and is a consistent, caring adult during their time in foster care.

Across the state, local CASA programs are working in the best interests of abused and neglected children who are in custody of the state and under the protection of the court. AARP Southern Oregon Community Action Team member Terri Peterson recently had the opportunity to speak with Wenonoa Spivak, Deputy Director for CASA of Jackson County, Inc. to learn about the program and their volunteer needs.

Tell us about your organization.
CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, was established in 1990 as part of Jackson County. In 2004, it became the small local non-profit it is today, serving children across the county.

CASA’s core concepts are based on the advocacy for children’s best interests using fact based observation through a strength based, non-biased lens. It’s a tough job because your clients are children navigating the judicial system. These highly trained advocates visit clients to insure their child’s needs are being met, write court reports for the judge, communicate with all involved (eg., parents, child welfare, counselor, etc.), and advocate for the child in court.

You mentioned volunteers are highly trained, can you elaborate on this.
The training process includes attending one weekly orientation via Zoom, a one on one interview, background check, and thirty hours of classroom training. After two years as a CASA, you can possibly become a mentor for new volunteers, if we determine it could be a fit for you.

Volunteer duties require you to visit the child once every thirty days, write reports, attend hearings, provide recommendations, and contact providers including medical and educational professionals, biological family, “resource parents” (foster care), attorneys and judges.

Are you currently in need of volunteers?
We have approximately 200 volunteers in the Medford area and are recruiting for another 50 to 70 individuals to supply needed assistance. Requirements are simply the desire to advocate for children and adolescents, a respect for our core concepts and values, cooperation and agreement to take on responsibilities. The age requirement is 21 or older (one CASA is 94). All backgrounds, gender and cultural identities, degrees of education (none, some, students, etc.), unemployed, part or full time workers, and retired individuals are eligible. At present, 72% of our volunteers are employed, 50 years or older.

How does one apply to become a CASA volunteer?
Call our main office (541-734-2272) or email CASA@jacksoncountyCASA.org to make an appointment to attend an initial orientation. As Anne Frank noted, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”.


NOTE: Do you live outside of Jackson and Josephine counties? Find a CASA program near you, here

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