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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 6. Criminal Justice and Corrections
Agency 20. Department of Criminal Justice Services
Chapter 160. Regulations Relating to the Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA)
12/6/2019

6VAC20-160-120. Training.

Part V
Training Guidelines for Volunteers

A. To ensure that volunteers are fully prepared to perform their role as a CASA volunteer and to assume the accompanying responsibilities, each volunteer shall participate in a minimum of 30 hours of training prior to being accepted as a CASA volunteer and assigned cases. Credit may be given towards the 30 hours of training for any previous training obtained by a volunteer prior to application to a local CASA program if that program uses the NCASAA Training Curriculum and documentation of completion of the training is provided.

B. The initial training curriculum for a CASA volunteer should, at a minimum, include:

1. The delineation of the roles and responsibilities of a CASA volunteer focusing on the rationale for family preservation/permanency planning, discussion of the basic principles of advocacy, distinction between the appropriate and inappropriate activities for a CASA volunteer, level of commitment required of a CASA volunteer involved in a case and the performance expectations, review of the case assignment process and procedures, differentiation between the role of the CASA volunteer and other child welfare system personnel, and a comprehensive list of resources available and when and how to utilize these resources;

2. The obligation of confidentiality in CASA-related matters, proper recordkeeping techniques, and the scope of state and federal statutes on the confidentiality of records;

3. The dynamics of cultural diversity and the development of cultural sensitivity by the CASA volunteer;

4. The nature of child abuse and neglect, the impact of drugs and alcohol on the incidence of abuse, identification of the family conditions and patterns which lead to and perpetuate abuse and neglect, and instruction on how local departments of social services respond to and assess reports of abuse and neglect;

5. The general principles and concepts of child and family development;

6. Concepts of separation and loss, the role of foster care and permanency planning in the context of state law with consideration of the state's position on family preservation, family reunification and alternative permanent plans for a child who cannot be returned to the home;

7. Basic communication and interview skills, with guidelines for dealing with sensitive issues and the interaction between the CASA volunteer and parties to a case, and practice in conducting interviews and writing reports;

8. The juvenile court process which should include an outline of the various types of court proceedings, what transpires at each proceeding, the CASA volunteer's role, who to contact when there is a question about the court process, a glossary of legal terminology, how to prepare for a hearing, and how to prepare a report for the court;

9. The development of advocacy skills, such as negotiation and conflict management, and how they may be used by the CASA volunteer to improve the conditions for a child; and

10. The development of a general understanding of the codes of ethics of other professionals with whom the CASA volunteer will be working.

C. The initial training program shall provide an opportunity for the volunteer to observe actual court proceedings similar to those in which he would be involved as a CASA volunteer. This observation is above and beyond the hours included in the initial training.

D. CASA volunteers in training should be provided an opportunity to visit community agencies and institutions relevant to their work as a volunteer.

E. The CASA program shall provide volunteers in training with the following written materials:

1. Copies of pertinent laws, regulations, and policies;

2. A statement of commitment form clearly stating the minimum expectations of the volunteer once trained; and

3. A training manual which is easy to update and revise.

F. Trainers and faculty for the initial training program and any ongoing training or continuing education shall be persons with substantial knowledge, training and experience in the subject matter which they present and should also be competent in the provision of technical training to lay persons.

G. CASA program staff and others responsible for the initial training program should be attentive to the participation and progress of each trainee and be able to objectively evaluate his abilities according to criteria developed by the CASA program for that purpose. CASA directors should use the Comprehensive Training Curriculum for CASA from the NCASAA and training curricula developed within the state as a reference in designing and developing their training program.

H. The CASA program shall make available a minimum of 12 hours of in-service training annually for volunteers who are accepted into the program. These in-service programs should be designed and presented to maintain and improve the volunteer's level of knowledge and skill. Special attention shall be given to informing volunteers of changes in the law, local court procedures, the practices of other agencies involved, CASA program policies and developments in the fields of child development, child abuse and child advocacy.

I. CASA volunteers shall complete 12 hours of continuing education annually as approved by the director. This continuing education may be in-service programs provided directly by the CASA program, or in conjunction with another agency or agencies, or may be through an outside agency, through print or electronic media, or from other sources. All training not conducted or sponsored by the CASA program must be reviewed and approved by the CASA director for its suitability for the continuing education of CASA volunteers, and the amount of continuing education credit that is appropriate.

Statutory Authority

§ 9.1-151 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 § 5.1, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Volume 14, Issue 05, eff. December 24, 1997; Volume 25, Issue 02, eff. October 29, 2008.

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