CASA volunteer shares his story

  • Doug Waitt Courtesy Photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/2/2019 3:40:48 PM

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of New Hampshire is an organization that trains volunteers to represent children in the New Hampshire court system.

CASA volunteers attend 40 hours of training prior to their service that includes learning how to be an effective advocate, how courtroom procedure works and how to write a court report.

Volunteering with CASA involves both paperwork and hands-on work, like visiting with the children and attending hearings, New Ipswich resident Doug Waitt says.

Waitt has been volunteering with CASA since October of 2017 and has worked three cases.

“Part of volunteering is committing to visit the children about once a month to make sure they are in a safe environment with either a safe, willing relative, a foster home or residential placement center, which is often for more difficult cases,” Waitt said.

During these visits, volunteers gauge how children are doing in their current environment. Waitt said that children often don’t want to open up if they feel pressured or anxious, so creating a relaxed atmosphere is important.

“It’s more appropriate to engage them in activity, such as throwing a baseball, playing chess, going for a walk,” Waitt said. “Waiting for them to talk as opposed to asking questions; rather than quizzing them. A lot of them are very cautious and less likely to open up that way.”

According to Waitt, the majority of cases he witnesses today are a result of opioid abuse by parents. Parents who are abusing substances often end up neglecting, and at times abusing, their children. The primary goal in these cases is ultimately for the children to be back in the custody of their parents. For that to happen, however, the parents need to prove in court that they are taking active steps for that to happen.

“Parents have to show they are doing what they need to. Whether that’s substance abuse classes, anger management classes, it can be any number of things,” Waitt said.

Along with checking in on the children, volunteers also must fill out reports with the details of their visits and their observations. According to Waitt, this can be the more difficult task in volunteering, but the supervisors who also assist in the training process are still there to help volunteers with putting their reports into a legal format.

As for the time commitment it takes to be a volunteer, CASA’s website states volunteers work an average of ten to 15 hours per month. According to Waitt, hearings occur one month apart in the beginning and after that it’s about every three months.

The work CASA does helps improve the lives of these children in the long-term. However, Waitt said it is important to remember that even if the situation does not turn out perfect, it is the work put forward that counts.

“By improving the outcomes of these children who have difficult childhoods, you’re improving how they become adults. This helps stop future problems,” Waitt said. “The children are of any generations of issues; to overcome that momentum is quite a task. It’s never going to be accomplished if it’s not attempted.”

Waitt also said that volunteering has been a rewarding experience overall.

“For me it has been a very worthwhile way to turn things in a positive direction for my community,” Waitt said. “I’m really doing it for selfish purposes because I enjoy living in a place where people are happy. This is my way of helping improve that.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering or donating to CASA of New Hampshire can visit their website at casanh.org and select either the volunteer or support tab. Anyone with additional questions can contact CASA at (603) 626-4600 and at speakup@casanh.org.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, your source for Peterborough area news.


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2020 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy