Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CAC Volunteer Advocate?
CAC is a non-profit that transforms the lives of vulnerable children and youth by providing trained and supervised one-on-one volunteer advocates in the courtroom and community in three program areas:
CASA of SW Connecticut program providing Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers for abused and neglected children in Superior Court for Juvenile Matters;
Probate Court program providing GAL volunteers for vulnerable children with complex guardianship cases in Probate Court; and
Community Advocates for Children and Youth (CACY) program providing volunteer advocates for vulnerable children and youth in the community.
Volunteers will be informed about the type of appointment and the details of the child’s situation before the volunteer chooses to accept any case appointment.
What is a CAC volunteer’s role?
A CAC volunteer advocate represents a unique “child-centered” perspective regarding what is in the best interest of a vulnerable child. CAC volunteers speak regularly with the child, family members, foster parents, social workers, school officials, healthcare providers, therapists, doctors and all others involved in the child’s life. Depending on the case, some volunteers are expected to write court reports summarizing findings one week prior to court hearings.
What training does a CAC volunteer receive?
Each CAC volunteer must complete a comprehensive 35 hour pre-service training (20 hours in-person plus approximately 15 hours on-line). The curriculum is designed to inform volunteers about the dynamics of abuse and neglect, cultural differences, bias, child development, effective advocacy techniques and courtroom procedures. For the on-line portion of the pre-service training, Volunteers need a computer with high-speed internet connection, a current web browser, Adobe Reader version 9 or higher and Flash version 10 or higher. Additionally, each CAC volunteer must complete 12 hours of in-service training each year. In-service training opportunities are provided for CAC volunteers either in-person or on-line. Most importantly, each volunteer works one-on-one with a CAC staff Program Director for support.
How much time does it require to volunteer?
CAC volunteers spend an average of 10 - 20 hours per month on each case. However, cases that are more complex may require more time. Also, the first two to three months of a case tend to be time-intensive, due to the volume of the initial information received, contacts to be made, hearings to attend, and possibly visits to be made to the see the child. Volunteers need to be available to attend scheduled hearings and meetings between 9-5 weekdays. Volunteers need a computer to keep track of case information, write and email reports.
How long does a CAC volunteer remain involved with a case?
CAC volunteers are asked to make a commitment to stay with each case until the case closes — typically, around 24 months. Sometimes a case closes sooner; sometimes it will continue for several years. It’s impossible to predict at the onset how long a case will be active.
How many cases on average does a CAC volunteer carry at a time?
CAC volunteers begin with just one case. Once that case is underway, the volunteer may be asked to serve on an additional case.
Does the CAC Volunteer visit with the child?
Volunteers are required to visit with the child(ren) at least once each month wherever the child is living. During COVID, "visits" with the child can be arranged virtually. The child(ren) may be residing anywhere in the state of CT. Some children live in their homes, others live in foster homes and others may be in group homes or institutions.
How effective is the CAC program?
Judges throughout the country have noted the value of the information that volunteer advocates bring to the proceedings and are appreciative of the unique and unbiased perspective. National studies demonstrate that a child who has been assigned a volunteer advocate spends less time in court and less time in foster care than those who do not have volunteer representation. Developmental research shows that having one caring adult in a child's life increases the likelihood that the child will flourish, and grow into a healthy, productive adult.
Will I be reimbursed for mileage or other expenses?
CAC volunteers can log a lot of miles in their monthly visits and court appearances. However, as a not-for-profit organization, CAC is not in a position to reimburse for those miles. Many volunteers track their mileage and other expenses (phone calls, postage) and use it as a tax write-off at year-end.
What is the application process?
Applicants must complete a Volunteer Application and successfully pass a background check. The CAC Staff will carefully review each application and may invite the applicant for a personal interview.
Are there other ways to help CAC besides being a volunteer advocate?
Yes! Being a CAC volunteer advocate is not possible for everyone. CAC also seeks individuals and corporations who wish to help underwrite the organization, organize or sponsor an event, or provide pro-bono assistance to CAC.