In an effort to enhance the safety and well-being of children in Westchester County, The Mental Health Association of Westchester offers several services to support these children. Our Court Appointed Special Advocate and Host Visitation volunteer opportunities prepare individuals to help children in foster care or at risk of placement. Read more below, and apply for the upcoming trainings today!
Court Appointed Special Advocates
Assigned by a Family Court Judge, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are trained community volunteers who monitor and report on the physical health, behavioral health and education needs of children who are in foster care or at risk for foster care. CASA volunteers fulfill their role through telephone and face-to-face contacts with the child, biological and foster parents, case managers and other service providers who are involved in the child’s life. Volunteers can be assigned at any point in the case and remain assigned until permanency – with either the biological or extended family or through adoption – is achieved. Volunteers are also required to commit to one year of service, complete background clearances and attend 30 hours of initial training. Much of the CASA’s work occurs Monday through Friday during regular business hours.
Host Visitation Program
For the nearly 600 Westchester County children in foster care, frequent and ongoing contact with their families is critical. Visiting reduces the trauma that children experience by being separated and increases their chances of living in a permanent home. Host Visitation volunteers, or Visit Hosts, are professionally trained community volunteers who support families by supervising and supporting them as they visit one another. Using Coached Visitation, a model developed by Marty Beyer, Ph.D., Visit Hosts guide parents as they cope with their own feelings, respond to the unique needs of their children and build on the strengths in each family. Coached visitation helps parents plan for meaningful visits in a natural and community-based environment whenever possible.
Host Visitation is a contract service through the Westchester County Department of Social Services.
Trainings for both CASA and Visit Host volunteers begin on March 14th; applications are due by March 8th. To learn more and apply, please contact Jackie Boissonnault at 914-345-5900, ext. 7518 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.