Frequently Asked Questions
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 the child in abuse and neglect proceedings. The volunteer works to ensure that progress is being made and timelines are being adhered to. Volunteers advocate in the community, attend court hearings, attend administrative hearings at Department of Children and Families, and may attend meetings in schools.
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 courtroom procedures, the dynamics of abuse and neglect, cultural differences, child development and effective advocacy techniques. 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 researching and conducting interviews with involved parties. Also, the first two to three months of a case tend to be more 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 court hearings between 9-5 weekdays.
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 might be asked to serve on an additional case.
How does a CAC volunteer research the case?
CAC volunteers speak regularly with parents and other family members, foster parents, social workers, school officials, healthcare providers, therapists, doctors and all others involved in the child’s life. Volunteers are expected to write court reports summarizing findings one week prior to court hearings. Volunteers need a computer to keep track of case information, write and email reports.
What is a CAC Volunteer?
A CAC volunteer advocate is a trained citizen who may be appointed as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) or Guardian ad Litem (GAL - “guardian of the case”) by a Judge to represent a child victim in cases of abuse and neglect. The judge determines the type of appointment (CASA or GAL) based on legal requirements and the needs of the child. 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.
Does the CAC Volunteer visit with the child?
Volunteer CASAs and GALs are required to visit with the child(ren) at least once each month wherever the child is living. 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.
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 the Department of Children and Families Background Form. 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.