Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers are much more than mentors. They are sworn officers of the court, appointed by a juvenile court judge to advocate one-on-one for children or youth who are the victims of abuse and neglect and in the foster care system.
Volunteer advocates can significantly influence a child or youth’s life during the journey from foster care to a safe, permanent home. Through their advocacy efforts CASA volunteers provide hope, increased opportunity, consistency, and a better life for children and youth in the court’s care. They help to end the cycle of abuse and neglect — making a difference for generations to come.
As a CASA volunteer and officer of the court, you will investigate and monitor all aspects of a child or youth’s case including placement, education, and health needs. You will accomplish this by visiting the child or youth weekly, reviewing records, researching information, and communicating with all parties involved including social workers, attorneys, parents, teachers, therapists, and care providers. You will have the privilege and responsibility to make recommendations to the court as to what is in the best interests of the child or youth based on your findings through the submission of a report.
You don’t need to be a social worker or an attorney. CASA volunteers are a diverse group of community members who have the desire to make a positive change in the lives of children and youth in foster care.
CASA Model and How it Works
Our best-interest advocacy is driven by the guiding principle that children grow and develop best with their family of origin (reunification), if that can be safely achieved. Most of the children we work with are in foster care and in other placements, but some are with their family of origin. And most children who leave foster care do so to return to their family.
Best Interest Advocacy
CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. That means:
- LEARN: Learn all you can about the child and his or her family and life
- ENGAGE: Engage with the child during regular visits
- RECOMMEND: Speak up for the child’s best interests in court. Make recommendations regarding the child’s placement and needed services, and monitor the child’s situation during the court process
- COLLABORATE: Collaborate with others to ensure that necessary services are provided and are in the child’s best interest
- REPORT: Report what you have learned and observed in court
What is required to be a CASA Volunteer?
Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older and be able to:
- Work with children, parents, family members, and professionals using concern, tact, and basic interpersonal skills.
- Respect and relate to others from various economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds in a variety of settings.
- Gather and accurately record factual information and maintain objectivity.
- Keep the team leader and case management office informed of case developments.
- Submit monthly Volunteer Hours Log.
- Meet case deadlines and timetables.
- Submit court reports three weeks prior to court hearings.
What time commitment is required?
- Completion of Volunteer Initial Training, an in-house, 36-hour training program, prior to receiving a case assignment.
- Minimum service of one year or until the case is vacated, whichever comes first.
- An average of 15-20 hours per month on assigned case.
- Attendance at:
- A minimum of two court hearings per calendar year.
- Three team meetings per calendar year.
- School and CFS meetings when scheduled.
- Regular consultations with team leader or staff concerning your assigned case.