In-Service Independent Learning

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In-Service Independent Learning

CASA volunteers of Montgomery County are required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of in-service training each calendar year in order to stay abreast of new information, services, policies and legislation. In-service training credit can be earned through a variety of different delivery methods, including attending workshops, watching videos, and reading articles, and should be related to their role as a CASA volunteer.

The chart below outlines the amount of credit which can be earned for different types of training. Be sure to speak to Wanda Smith if you do not see a specific type of training listed below or would like to know if a certain type of training will qualify for credit.

Training Type

Allowable Credit

Articles in magazines, journals and newspapers

Maximum of 1 hour per article

Internet Research for Cases

Amount of time spent on research


30 minutes for each 50 pages; Maximum of 3 hours per book

Video / DVD

Length of the video or DVD

TV Program

Length of program

On-line Training Module

Amount of time spent taking the course. Use recommended credit if provided.


Length of conference minus breaks and lunch

Community Workshop / Seminar

Length of workshop / seminar minus breaks

Watch the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder video series to learn more about FASD.

New training is available for Texas teachers and other school staff on how to recognize and report child abuse. The self-paced training is available on the DFPS website at:

The National CASA website (

Also has online training that will give a total of 2.5 in-service hours. Contact your supervisor to get set up.

Listed below by categories are articles and online publications to assist you with your CASA advocacy efforts. Make sure to notify your supervisor of the time spent on this independent learning as it can go towards your in-service hours. 

Instructions - Click on the specific article or publication you are interested in and you will be able to view a description and a link to the source. When you click on your selection a second time the section will collapse.



Child Development

Childhood Sexuality: What Professionals Need to Know (Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal pg 18- 24)

This article provides helpful guidelines for professionals who work in the area of child welfare about what is "normal" childhood sexuality, what might be cause for concern, and what needs immediate intervention. Document



Helping Infants and Toddlers Through Transitions in Foster Care (The Source,Fall 2004)

This issue of the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center's bi-annual newsletter focuses on transitions for infants and toddlers in foster care.

Violence & Childhood: How Persisting Fear Can Alter the Developing Child's Brain

This article by Bruce Perry, a leading researcher in children's mental health and neuroscience, offers a neuro-developmental perspective on the impacts of violence on children.

Child Protection and the Legal System

Crossover Cases: Children and Youth Involved in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems

This issue of The Judges' Page reviews multiple aspects of handling the crossover case.

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act: Frequently Asked Questions on the Provisions to Impact Youth and Young Adults

This document from the National Foster Care Coalition answers questions about Fostering Connections - improvements that will impact youth and young adults in foster care and assist in the implementation process. The questions are designed to be used by those charged with implementing Fostering Connections: improvements, those advocating for implementation, to the youth, young adults, parents, relative caregivers, and others who will be most affected by implementation of this new law. 

Giving the Family a Chance: Working Towards Reunification

This National CASA article presents a fresh look at the issues surrounding reunification, discusses reasonable efforts, offers tips for advocates, and provides useful resources for CASAs.

Making Reasonable Efforts: A Permanent Home for Every Child

This report was published in 2000 by the Youth Law Center and includes guidelines for attorneys, judges and child welfare agencies as well as a list of resource organizations and internet resources.

The Indian Child Welfare Act & CASA/GAL Volunteers: Advocating for the Best Interests of Native Children

This article provides a brief history of the Indian Child Welfare Act and helpful advice for CASAs who are advocating for Native American children.

Child Well-Being

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009

This annual report, created by the Forum on Child and Family Statistics, provides updates on the well-being of children and families in the United States across a range of domains.


Communicating Clearly: It's Not What You Say, It's How Others Hear You

This article from the Fieldstone Alliance discusses the importance of shared meaning in communicating with others and provides the reader with steps to create shared meaning in personal and professional situations.

Cultural Competence

A FOCUS on Cultural Competency

This quarterly newsletter from the Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA) presents several articles which explore ways to build cultural competence.

A Practice Guide for Working with African American Families in the Child Welfare System

Although it is aimed at caseworkers, this article is instructive for CASA/GAL volunteers as they seek to employ a culturally competent, strengths-based approach to working with African American families.

Culture Matters: The Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Workbook

This cross-cultural workbook was designed for Peace Corps volunteers, but provides an excellent resource for cross-cultural awareness in America as well as for learning how to interact with people of other cultures in a respectful and successful manner.

Flipping the Script: White Privilege & Community Building

The authors of this monograph intend it to help those involved in improving communities to work in more equitable and thoughtful partnerships with community residents and other stakeholders, with special attention to issues of privilege, oppression, racism and power as they play out in this work.

Serving Native American Children in Foster Care (The Connection, winter 2009, pg. 6-11)

This article discusses current realities for Native American children in the foster care system and offers tips and resources to advocate more effectively.

Understanding the Relational Worldview in Indian Families

This National CASA Association article summarizes both the linear and relational worldviews and shows how Indian family functioning can be understood from the relational view.


Challenges Faced by Foster Youth with Chronic Illnesses and Severe Disabilities

The Spring 2009 issue of National CASA Associations "The Connection " magazine contains several articles and resource references dealing with foster youth and chronic illnesses and severe disabilities.

Domestic Violence

"Batterer Accountability: Responding to Child Maltreatment & Domestic Violence"

This article addresses Washington State's efforts to bring together judges, law enforcement officials, child welfare professionals, and domestic violence advocates to improve the response to child welfare cases involving domestic violence. Central to this effort is finding ways to hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable for their actions in order to improve the safety of children.


A Roadmap for Learning - Improving Education Outcomes in Foster Care

This resource from Casey Family Programs shows how to integrate the predictors of academic success into an educational plan and encourages letting youth in out-of-home care be the primary voice in their own decision-making.

Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Children in Foster Care FACT SHEET

This fact sheet offers a framework for both direct case advocacy and system reform efforts to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care. It presents 8 goals for youth, benchmarks that indicate progress toward educational success as well as national, state and local examples of policies, practices, programs and resources.

Foster Children & Education: How You Can Create a Positive Educational Experience for the Foster Child

This paper gives an overview of the educational obstacles facing children in foster care and the role adults can play to have a positive impact on their educational experience.

Mythbusting: Breaking Down Confidentiality & Decision-Making Barriers to Meet the Education Needs of Children in Foster Care

This paper gives an overview of the education needs of children in foster care, explains the federal laws regarding confidentiality of education records, and debunks myths about confidentiality.

National Conference of State Legislatures, "Educating Children in Foster Care"

This informative policy article looks at challenges and services involved in educating children in foster care.

The McKinney-Vento Act at a Glance

This issue brief provides an overview of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act which is educational legislation that includes foster children.

Transition Planning for Foster Youth with Disabilities: Are We Falling Short?

This issue brief from the Fostering Futures Project discusses the findings of a study which evaluated the school transition plans of students who are in both foster care and special education. It explains some of the contributing factors to the problem and presents seven recommendations for improvement.

Mental Health

Women's Mental Health: What It Means to You

This booklet from The Office on Women's Health addresses the stigma associated with mental health, with information on the signs and symptoms of mental illness. It also provides suggestions for support and solutions for preventing and coping with mental illness.

Older Youth

Adolescent Growth and Development

This article provides an overview of how teens develop physically, cognitively, and socially as well as how they are affected, what adults can do and what support resources are available.

The Difficult Transition to Adulthood for Foster Youth in the U.S.: Implications for the State as Corporate Parent (Social Policy Report 2009 - Article 1 - Author: Mark E. Courtney)

The author briefly describes the U.S. child welfare system, summarizes research on the transition to adulthood for foster youth, and examines the evolution of U.S. policy towards foster youth using the concept of "corporate parenting."

It's My Life: A Framework for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Successful Adulthood

This guide, published in 2001, was created by, for, and with youth, drawing on the expertise and insights of youth in foster care, alumni of care, social workers, researchers, and education specialists. It is designed for child welfare professionals and others responsible for guiding and supporting teens as they prepare for adulthood.

Transitions: Building Better Lives for Youth Leaving Foster Care

This 2005 report from Children's Action Alliance provides information on federal laws and funding, existing state support programs and services to support transitioning youth, findings from focus groups with youth in/from foster care and state actions taken to improve transitions for youth.

Substance Abuse

Meth & Child Welfare: Promising Solutions for Children, Their Parents & Grandparents

This report from Generations United focuses on the risks that methamphetamine use poses to children and makes recommendations for how the child welfare system can respond to the increase in meth use across the country.

Parental Substance Use and the Child Welfare System

This fact sheet from the Child Welfare Information Gateway provides an overview of the issues confronting families affected by parental substance use and who enter the child welfare system.

Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders

This manual addresses the nature of substance use disorders (SUDs) and provides an overview of how child welfare and other related professionals can assist families affected by SUDs.

Recovery: A Philosophy of Hope and Resilience (SAMHSA News September/October 2009)

This issue of SAMHSA News highlights The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment's recovery-related programs and recent white papers on research, case studies, and lessons learned.

"The Truth About Addiction"

This article is aimed at helping those who work in the child welfare system understand addiction.

Understanding Substance Abuse & Facilitating Recovery: A Guide for Child Welfare Workers

This guide is intended to help child welfare workers understand how alcohol and drugs affect child welfare, recognize when substance abuse is a factor in child welfare cases, understand addiction and treatment, and collaborate with treatment partners.

What is Substance Abuse? A Guide for Families

This comprehensive booklet answers questions about substance abuse treatment and provides information on additional resources.

Online Publications

Best Interests

This online magazine offers news and resources for professionals and volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. The site includes information on legal issues, medical topics, web resources, and legislation.

Child Welfare 360° (CW360°) NEW!

CW360° is an annual publication that provides communities, child welfare professionals, and other human service professionals with comprehensive information on the latest research, policies and practices in a key area affecting child well-being today.

The Connection magazine

A quarterly magazine designed to keep CASA programs, volunteers and the public abreast of the latest news and developments affecting CASA advocacy for abused and neglected children.

The Judges Page newsletter

An online publication from National CASA in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which provides articles about reasonable efforts, mental health, substance abuse, child development and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The Source

A bi-annual magazine published by the AIA Resource Center. Each issue focuses on a different theme related to substance abuse, HIV and/or child welfare. The magazine includes: articles on practices, policy and research, program profiles, resource reviews, and conference listings.

Represent magazine

This is a teen-written magazine that discusses issues facing children throughout the foster care system. Its goal is to train, inform, and provide a voice for teens through print journalism.

RISE magazine

Written by and for parents involved in the child welfare system, its mission is to help parents advocate for themselves and their children. Topics include father's rights, incarcerated parents, addiction, sexual abuse, domestic violence, reunification and many more.


This national newsletter of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is published six times a year (bimonthly) and provides information about the latest substance abuse and mental health treatment and prevention practices.

Social Policy Report

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) offers this report four times each year to provide a forum for scholarly reviews and discussions of developmental research and its implications for policies affecting children. Website