The goal of Children in Placement, a child advocacy and youth empowerment program, is to see every child in Connecticut in a safe and permanent home preparing for life outside of a state system. We do this primarily by training community members to serve as volunteer guardians ad litem to represent the best interests of children who are in court as the victims of abuse or neglect. Children in Placement (CIP) is the primary Volunteer Advocacy program in Connecticut.
Children in Placement has served Connecticut’s abused and neglected children since 1979. The role of the volunteers has changed over the years, but throughout time the safety of children in out-of-home placements has been the priority.
Aren’t there attorneys and caseworkers who do this for the children?
CIP works closely with statutorily mandated attorneys and protective services social workers, yet it does not duplicate the services of those groups. CIP provides an essential link between them – particularly in light of limited time and resources available to individual cases. Our volunteers are generally limited to one or two cases at a time so they can devote themselves to the most difficult and complicated cases to which they are assigned. They literally become the eyes and ears of the court.
You must be 21 years of age, able to operate a computer, and you must have a car or access to one for your own transportation. If that is the case, you can complete an application which includes a Department of Children and Families check, a criminal background check, references, and an interview. Completion of these steps is not a guarantee of acceptance into the program. Our decision to accept a volunteer is based on all of the above and observations of you during the training sessions.
Each volunteer must complete a comprehensive 30-hour pre-service training. The curriculum is designed to inform volunteers about the roles and responsibilities of the volunteer, courtroom procedures, the dynamics of abuse and neglect, cultural awareness, and permanency planning and the law. Professionals from social service agencies, cultural diversity trainers, and medical and legal experts participate with the CIP staff to share their expertise. Continuing in-service training keeps our volunteer advocates well-informed.
Children in Placement represents approximately 300-400 victimized children each year who range from birth to 18 years of age. In FY 2017-18, CIP served 750 individuals with 161 volunteers that donated 9,787 hours of their time.
One thing all of our volunteers have in common is a tremendous satisfaction from this work. Other than that, our volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. There are on average 200 active Children in Placement volunteers who include corporate personnel, retirees, students and educators, health care professionals, and homemakers.
We have a special need for male volunteers and for those who are bilingual in English and Spanish.
Volunteers should expect to spend about 10 to 15 hours per month on a case. Most importantly, volunteers are asked to visit with the child(ren) at least once each month – as advocates, not mentors. The visits serve to gain a full understanding of the situation and environment. Since most of these appointments and calls can be arranged around your own schedule, it is possible to be a volunteer and be employed on a full time basis. CIP volunteers are asked to make a two year commitment, which is generally the length of time a case runs from start to finish.
Judges, attorneys, child welfare workers and parents overwhelmingly report that volunteers make a difference with the children they serve. In addition, national studies show that a child who has been assigned a Volunteer GAL receives more services, is more likely to be permanently placed and less likely to reenter the child welfare system.
Children in placement is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As a private nonprofit, Children in Placement relies on a diverse revenue base made up of state and federal funding, private foundation grants, fundraising events, and individual and corporate contributions.
Absolutely! Not everyone can be a child advocate, but everyone can help. Children in Placement also seeks corporate sponsorship to underwrite program services, advertising, special events or projects with monetary or in-kind donations. We also need individuals to tell others about our work or to assist on committees or with tasks in our offices.