New volunteers 
 
Before being matched with a child, new volunteers learn about CASA practices and principles during our pre-service training program. Our next training  session will be held in fall 2021; email rappcasa@gmail.com to learn more. 
 
Volunteer candidates must complete an application, take part in an interview and complete background checks before participating in training. We typically offer training for new volunteers 2-3 times each year. 
 
In a typical training session, we hold a mix of daytime and evening classes. During COVID, we've held classes exclusively by Zoom, in the evenings. All trainees spend about 30 hours with us and have some homework assignments. We know training is a big time commitment, but CASA service becomes much more flexible once training is completed.
 
Our training classes cover a variety of topics related to the child welfare system, including:
  • the effects of substance abuse, poverty and domestic violence on families
  • the importance of objectivity, patience and compassion in CASA service
  • how to interview people, gather information and write effective CASA reports
  • the foster care timeline and child protection laws
  • the roles of social workers, Guardians ad litem and parents' attorneys
  • the importance of protecting children's and families' confidentiality.
Training culminates with volunteers being sworn in by a local Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court judge.
 
Current volunteers
 
We hold several events each year to help our current volunteers acquire at least 12 hours of additional training -- the minimum annual requirement. The events also give volunteers a chance to gather for support, encouragement and new information. CASA staff email volunteers with upcoming training dates.
 
Quarterly meetings, which give volunteers a chance to discuss case challenges and successes and hear program updates, are held in the CASA office -- typically on Monday or Tuesday evenings from 6-8 p.m. In-service training sessions often feature guest speakers discussing topics relevant to CASA work. They are usually held on weeknights but occasionally on Saturday mornings.

Rappahannock CASA also periodically hosts book club gatherings and movie nights to provide CASA volunteers with the opportunity to learn about and discuss child welfare-related issues.

Note: During COVID, we encourage volunteers to participate in webinars, read books and watch videos related to child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, childhood development, cultural diversity and other topics important to our work. Volunteers, we will send you virtual training opportunities as they arise. We can also email you video and book recommendations. We hope to resume in-person training events in summer or fall 2021.