WHAT IS CASA?
Court Appointed Special Advocates is a volunteer powered network of community members assigned by a family court judge to help determine the best interests of children involved in the child welfare system.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF A CASA VOLUNTEER?
- Be at least 21 years old.
- Complete extensive screening prior to case assignment.
- Complete 30 hours of pre-service training, consisting of class work and court observation.
- Be sworn in as an “officer of the court” – taking an oath to focus on the best interests of their assigned child and to maintain strict confidentiality.
- Work with only one child or sibling group at a time.
- Devote time and energy to assist judges and child welfare professionals with safety and permanency planning for a child.
- Collaborate with a CASA supervisor throughout their assignment, keeping them informed of their advocacy efforts as they speak on behalf of the needs, best interests and wishes of children in court.
Once assigned by a family court judge, the CASA volunteer:
- Reviews the court file to gather demographic information, family history and court orders.
- Interviews those involved in the case to gather information that will assist the court in making timely decisions in the child’s best interests. Biological parents, foster parents, caseworkers, attorneys, teachers, medical professionals, or others involved with the child should expect the assigned CASA volunteer to contact them for an interview.
- Communicates with everyone involved in the case to ensure the child’s best interests.
- Reports to the court. After gathering information, CASA volunteers prepare a report that is reviewed by the CASA staff and submitted to the court. In order to protect everyone’s privacy, these reports are available only to the court and the parties involved in the case.
- Facilitates discussion among the people involved with a child in the child welfare system. CASA can help keep the lines of communication open.
- Monitors progress. CASA volunteers maintain contact with everyone involved; attend court hearings, meetings and follows up on court orders. In addition, CASA volunteers visit children at least monthly and continually report to the court for the duration of the case assignment.