Can I volunteer with CASA while having a full-time job?

Apr 24 2018

multitasking

by Ashika Sethi

Many potential volunteers ask us, “What all is involved with being a CASA volunteer?” and while the answer varies from case to case, a typical volunteer spends roughly 15-20 hours per month advocating for a child in their community. Although dedicating over 15 hours to this volunteer opportunity can be seen as a potential deterrent to those with full-time jobs, it is absolutely possible to manage and excel at both simultaneously.

In 2017, over 50% of active CASA volunteers in Travis County held full-time jobs, 8% held part-time jobs, 6% were self-employed, and 2.5% were students. That’s roughly two-thirds of active CASA volunteers who were able to balance this volunteer opportunity with their primary work.

The role of a CASA volunteer is unique from other volunteer opportunities in that most of the hours put into this work are spent remotely. Take a look at the typical month in the life of a CASA volunteer, and you’ll see that aside from training, usually the only times a volunteer needs to be present during regular working hours are for court hearings and occasional CPS meetings. Even then, court hearings typically only happen every three months. These 15-20 hours encompass every activity that a volunteer does that involves their work with CASA, including time spent driving to a child’s placement, texting with parents, and sending emails to those involved on the child’s case.

That being said, our Child Advocacy Specialists are here to help our CASA volunteers better manage their time spent advocating for children so they get the most out of every minute.

“To succeed at being a CASA volunteer, it’s all about time management and good communication skills,” says Laura Honsig, one of our Child Advocacy Specialists. “If a volunteer is able to communicate well and collaborate with their supervisor, it makes planning ahead for meetings much easier. It’s also good to collaborate because if an emergency were to happen with a child, the volunteer can rely on their supervisor to be present if their job conflicts with their availability to address the issue in person.”

In this article on how to effectively manage time, one tip is to plan ahead for activities and items that need to be accomplished in the upcoming days or weeks.

“The time you spend thinking ahead and planning your activities is trivial compared with the time you’ll lose jumping from one thing to the next (and rarely completing anything). Depending on your personality, try one of these options:

  • The night before — At the end of the day, take 15 minutes to clear your desk and put together a list of the next day’s most pressing tasks. It’s a great decompression technique, and you’ll feel better sitting down at a clean desk in the morning.
  • First thing in the morning — Arrive a few minutes early and assemble your prioritized to-do list (see #2). This may prove to be the most productive part of your day.”

With this tip in mind, it can be helpful to spend an hour or two before/after work to dedicate to logging activities in our online case management database and planning for child visits or court hearings.

It’s important to remember that when a person wants to do something, they make the time to do it. CASA volunteers want to help children in their communities. This drive to improve a child’s life motivates our volunteers to carve out a few hours a week in order to make sure that the child is being looked after – from ensuring the child feels safe at their current placement to connecting with teachers and counselors on the child’s progress.

The impact of a CASA volunteer can change the trajectory of a child’s life in ways that wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers’ persistence, time and dedication. We at CASA truly believe that the hours CASA volunteers dedicate to children in our community are imperative to those children’s success and happiness.