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Who are CASA Volunteers?
Volunteers are everyday citizens that judges appoint to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who are victims of parental abuse and neglect. They are often the only consistent person in the child’s life as the child journeys through the child welfare system.
What does it mean to be a CASA volunteer?
Becoming a CASA volunteer is an investment of time, energy and heart. But as many volunteers have said of the children they worked with: "It wasn't about what I gave them; it was what they showed me." It is knowing you are making a difference in the life of an abused and neglected child.
How much time does it take to be a CASA volunteer?
All volunteers must complete a 30-hour pre-service training and at least 5 hours of court observation. The time commitment to a case varies depending upon the stage of the case. Volunteers sometimes say that there is a greater amount of work in the beginning of the case, when they are conducting their initial research. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a month on a case.
Do I need to make a long-term commitment to the program?
You are asked to dedicate yourself to a case until it is closed. The average case lasts about a year and a half.
Do I need to have any special skills or meet any requirements?
No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. We encourage people from all cultures and professions, and of all ethnic and educational backgrounds. Once accepted into the program, you will receive all necessary training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system and the special needs of abused and neglected children.
- Be 21 years old
- Be willing to complete necessary background checks, provide references, and participate in an interview
- Complete a minimum of 30 hours of pre-service training
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed
- Attend 12 hours of continuing education/training sessions annually
What does a volunteer do?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
- 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 one consistent person in the child(ren)'s life until permanency is reached.
- 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.
What support will I receive?
You will be supported every step of the way. You will be assigned a volunteer coordinator who will be there to assist you and provide you with opportunities for continuing education. In addition to your local organization both the state and national organizations offer support to the volunteers.