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.
What does a CASA volunteer do?
- Investigate: Carries out an objective, systematic examination of the situation, including relevant history, environment, relationships, and needs of the assigned child or youth. Weekly visits with the child are required.
- Advocate: Speaks up for the best interests of the child or youth for whom he/she is appointed.
- Facilitate: Identifies resources and services for the child or youth and facilitates a collaborative relationship between all parties involved in the case.
- Monitor: Keeps track of whether the orders of the court, as well as the plans of Children and Family Services (CFS), are carried out, and reports to the court and collaborates with CFS when any parties do not follow those orders and plans.
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, 40-hour training program, prior to receiving a case assignment.
- Minimum service of two years 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.