Alma’s Volunteer Corner: Developing Your Inner Detective

Aug27As a child, I had a fascination with the detective magazines my mom would read. Reading police reports, searching for clues, and interviewing witnesses were all activities that I thought would make for a fulfilling job. But, in reality, I am not cut out to be a detective.

As a CASA volunteer, you get a chance to develop your inner detective through the investigative journalism skills needed to be a good advocate:

Organization: Knowing the major people in your kiddo’s life is key to understanding his or her support system. Chronological order is key in having a good handle on your case. We receive police reports, doctor reports, student evaluations, caseworker notes, therapist reports and more.

Research and Information Gathering: Staying organized helps you access information quickly and allows you to catch inaccuracies or issues. If organization isn’t one of your strong traits, CASA training will give you tools to help polish those skills. You will spend quite a bit of time going through the reports, interviewing people, confirming details, clarifying details and much more.

You will learn a lot about things that might not be in your profession, like medical terminology, legal issues, mental health, child welfare laws, medical insurance and more.

Interviewing: If you are shy, being a CASA volunteer will help you break out of your shell. You will spend a great amount of your time interviewing people who are involved in the life of your CASA kid. You will learn good interview techniques and how to get the information you need to make an accurate recommendation to the judge. You will get to know the people in your CASA kid’s life and understand the role they play or can play in the direction of the case.

Report Writing: This is where it all comes together in a well-researched report. You write the report based on the facts that you’ve gathered from experts who are dealing with your CASA kid. You also share your recommendations for the judge based on all of the information you’ve gathered.

So, while my career did not lead me to be a detective, I’m lucky that the skills I’ve gained as a CASA volunteer gave me that rewarding opportunity.