Court Appointed Special Advocate Commitment
This is not your ordinary volunteer job. People who give their time to CASA advocacy come from many different walks of life. Some have years of education and professional experience working for children and families, but many have no prior experience. CASAs are business professionals, teachers, secretaries, waiters, doctors, stay-at-home moms & dads, retired people, military service people, etc. Some have themselves grown up in the foster care system and felt the sorrow of having to move from home to home. And some are people who flourished in a warm and loving family, never once imagining that there were children who did not have caring parents.
So what does it take to become a CASA volunteer? First and foremost is a desire to help and a heart for children. Because we work with abused and traumatized children, we try to ensure the safety and well-being of those we serve by extensive screening of our volunteers. In addition to the application, volunteers are interviewed, references are obtained, and background checks are conducted prior to the 30-hour training course. Our volunteers average about 5 hours of service per week on their cases. Once assigned a case, we ask that volunteers commit to the length of a case which averages about 14 months. Our advocates have paid staff supervisors available to help every step of the way and resources readily available to assist.
Exactly what does a CASA volunteer do?
- Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
- Document findings: Provide written reports at 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.
- “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.
- 21 years old
- High School Diploma
- No felony convictions
- Complete 30 hours of initial training
- Complete 12 hours annual in-service training
- Maintain confidentiality of all client and court information
- Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing
- Ability to respect and relate to people from various backgrounds
- Desire to advocate for a child and be his/her volunteer voice in court
- Be available for 4-6 hours a week to dedicate to CASA work
- Commit to the length of a case (average 16-18 months).