What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, is a community volunteer trained to be the voice of an abused or neglected child.
Who can become a CASA volunteer?
CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life. No specific background, or prior training or education is required. However, due to the sensitivity of the role played by the CASA Volunteer, we regret that not every applicant is accepted.
What are the qualifications to become a CASA volunteer?
Interest in children, their rights and special needs
Communication skills – oral and written
Minimum age requirement is 21 years of age
No criminal history
Objectivity and compassion
Complete the CASA training
Typically, a 9-15 month commitment from assignment date
How do CASAs gather information necessary to be an effective advocate?
The volunteer’s role is to be an effective advocate for a child’s best interest. To accomplish this, the volunteer will thoroughly research the facts of the case by talking to educational, medical and mental health professionals who work with the child, as well as to biological parents and foster parents. The CASA also makes regular visits to observe the child in the current placement, which may be a foster home, group home or residential center. As a minimum, the CASA volunteer must visit the child at twice per month.
What are the specific duties of a CASA volunteer?
Learn all relevant facts through personal interviews and a review of all records and documents.
Gather information for written reports to the Court
Report significant changes in the case to case supervisors and agencies involved.
Maintain ongoing communication with case supervisor to receive support and keep information up to date.
What is the time commitment?
Once a volunteer completes the 30-hour training program, he or she will spend from 10 – 15 hours a month. The required time varies with the circumstances of the case as well as the degree of involvement of the volunteer. Most contact with agencies and service collaterals can be done over the phone. Visits to CASA children, relatives, and some agencies can take place at the volunteer's convenience.
How are CASA volunteers prepared to fulfill their role?
The CASA volunteer first completes a comprehensive training program. The CASA volunteer is also assigned to a case supervisor who provides guidance, support and administrative assistance throughout the life of the case.
How is CASA different from the Social Worker at the Department of Children and Families (formerly DSS)?
The social workers from DCF may have dozens of cases which service dozens of children, at any given time. CASA volunteers are generally assigned only one case at a time, so the children on your case are your one and only priority. The CASA Project is a nonprofit agency, appointed by the Judge, to a specific case. CASA is completely independent of and not associated with the Department of Children and Families.
How does the role of a CASA volunteer differ from the role of an attorney?
The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom. That is the role of an attorney. A CASA volunteer does not represent the child's wishes in court; the volunteer advocates for the child's best interests.
Will I become attached to the child (ren) on my case?
This is a commonly asked question. CASAs do not have a close relationship with the child the way that a Big Brother or Big Sister would. As an advocate, you see the child approximately twice a month. The CASA role is to facilitate services for the child, not to have the child or the family becomes dependent upon CASA. CASAs will often develop a close relationship with the child(ren), but they do not get so attached that they lose their objectivity.
How many cases does a CASA volunteer carry at one time?
Most volunteers are assigned just one case at a time.
How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved in a case?
Volunteers commit to staying on a case with the child/ren until the case is closed. The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure and provides continuity for a child. The average case length is 9- 15 months.
Are there other ways in which I can support the CASA program?
You bet! Some of the other ways to support the CASA program include: participating in our fund raising events, helping with community relations; providing English/Spanish translation and or making a financial contribution.