What does it mean to be a CASA Volunteer?
Court Appointed Special Advocate: A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained community volunteer who is appointed by a judge to advocate for an abused or neglected child in juvenile court deprivation proceedings. The CASA makes independent recommendations to the court. The CASA advocates for each child to be placed in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.
CASA advocates listen first. Then they act.
Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child's life; parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
- Gather information: Review documents and records, speak with the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
- Document findings: Provide written reports for court hearings.
- Appear in court: Advocate for the child's best interests and provide testimony when necessary.
- Explain what is going on: Help the child understand the court proceedings (age appropriate).
- "Be the glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives. As one volunteer said:Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
- Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their family are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child's health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals.
- Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held.
- Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members. Ensure that appropriate motions are filed on behalf of the child so the court knows about any changes in the child's situation.
Who can be an Advocate?
You must be at least 21 years of age. You do not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer. We welcome people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for committed people who care about children. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained using the National CASA training curriculum and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.
You must pass a background check, participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (average 12 to 18 months).
An effective volunteer will be Self-motivated, a Team Player, & Dedicated!!!