What is a CASA volunteer?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers include those for whom home placement is being determined in family court. The children we advocate for are victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
What is the CASA volunteer's role?
CASA volunteers advocate for the children's best interests both in court and their community. Responsibilities include gathering information from all those in the children's lives, providing written reports at quarterly court hearings, seeking cooperative solutions among all parties, voicing concerns regarding physical, mental and educational needs and well-being, recommending services, ensuring court-ordered plans are followed in a timely manner and remaining a consistent presence in the children's lives until the case is closed, whether through reunification, adoption or guardianship.
How does a CASA volunteer investigate a case?
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, foster parents, biological parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others knowledgeable about the child's history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records, including school, medical and caseworker reports.
Do lawyers, judges and caseworkers support CASA?
Yes. Family court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice.
How effective are CASA programs?
According to the National CASA Association, a child with a CASA volunteer:
• Is more likely to find a safe, permanent home
• Is more likely to be adopted
• Is half as likely to re-enter foster care
• Is substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
• Does better in school, including more likely to pass all courses and less likely to be expelled
How much time does being a CASA volunteer require?
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Going forward, volunteers work about 10-15 hours a month, which includes phone calls, emails and in-person visits.
How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved with a case?
The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other parties to the case who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the child’s life and in the court proceedings. CASA of Union County requires a minimum 18-month commitment, as this provides much-needed continuity for the child.
Is there a “typical” CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. There are more than 76,000 CASA volunteers nationwide. Last year, they helped more than 251,000 abused and neglected children find safe and permanent homes. Aside from this unique volunteer work, 52% of advocates nationally are employed full-time; 82% are women and 18% are men.
How do I get more information about becoming a CASA volunteer?
Contact us here!
I'm ready to volunteer. What do I do now?