Volunteer Requirements for CASA and EDM Volunteers

What Does it Mean to Be a CASA or EDM Volunteer?

Becoming a CASA and/or EDM volunteer is an investment of time, energy and heart. Many volunteers have said of the children they worked with: "It wasn't about what I gave them, it was what they showed me."

May I become both a CASA and EDM Volunteer?

Yes, all of our volunteers are required to take the CASA training.  Some of our volunteers go on to train to be EDM volunteers, as well.  You may be a CASA volunteer, an EDM volunteer, or both. 

How much time does it take to be a CASA volunteer?

  • Prior to being assigned to a child, volunteers must complete 30 hours of pre-service training.
  • The monthly time commitment 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 information gathering. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a month on a case.
  • In Philadelphia, judges schedule hearings every 90 days so volunteers need to try to get time off from work to accommodate the court schedule.

How much time does it take to be an EDM volunteer?

  • Prior to being assigned to a child, volunteers must complete the standard 30 hours of pre-service training, in addition to 2 hours of EDM training.
  • The monthly time commitment 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 information gathering. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a month on a case.
  • In Philadelphia, judges schedule hearings every 90 days so volunteers need to try to get time off from work to accommodate the court schedule for the first EDM hearing in order for the EDM volunteer to get his/her name on the EDM court order.  Attendance at the hearings that follow will not be mandatory, and will vary by case.

Do I need to make a long-term commitment to the program?

  • You are asked to dedicate yourself to a child until their case is closed with the court.
  • The average case lasts about 2 years. However, we understand that sometimes life gets complicated and will work with you to accommodate your scheduling needs. 

Do I need to have any special skills or meet any requirements?

  • No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer, though it helps to have a background in education or a special interest in education if you would like to become an EDM volunteer.
  • We encourage people from all cultures, professions 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.

Requirements include:

  • 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 for CASA volunteers and 2 additional hours of training for EDM volunteers.
  • Be available for court appearances, with advance notice.
  • Be willing to commit to the CASA/EDM program until your first case is close.

I am a student or I am planning to be a student! Can I voluteer?

CASA Volunteers are 21+ years old, are committed to at least two years, and spend about 10-15 hours per month of their free time volunteering. Outside of visiting the child(ren) and attending court, CASA volunteers need to have day-to-day flexibility for volunteer work. Case issues can arise at any time.

Often, students find this to be difficult, and are usually not successful with completing the requirements to be a volunteer or the two-year commitment. Being a student is a big undertaking, and being a CASA is a rigorous volunteer experience.

We understand that every persons’ situation is different, and not all student statuses are the same, so we do not have a policy against students becoming volunteers. If you are a student interested in being a CASA, perhaps you could contact us at info@casaphiladelphia.org prior to applying, in order to discuss your situation further, to see if it being a CASA and a student is viable for you at this time.

If you apply and have not spoken with a CASA staff person prior to applying, please know a CASA staff person will reach out to you to schedule a phone call to discuss your student status further, prior to offering an interview.

Some questions to consider as a student/future student who is pursuing CASA:

  • How long will I be in Philadelphia?
  • Do I have a strict timeline of my educational goals and would I need my CASA Pre-Service Training, and casework to fit into my schedule?
  • Can I be flexible throughout an entire years’ time to attend court every three months, knowing that CASA’s do not have input in when court is scheduled?
  • Can I be flexible throughout an entire years’ time to visit the child(ren) every month, knowing that I will have to coordinate with the child(ren)’s school and household schedule?
  • Is CASA something I can pursue after I complete my education and settle into post-graduation life?
  • As a student, when is my free time now? How do I spend that free time? Do I have the capacity to add a rigorous and at times stressful volunteer role?
  • Would my professors/advisors recommend this volunteer role while pursuing my education?

Exactly what does a CASA 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 glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives.
  • Recommend services: Ensure that children and their families 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.

Exactly what does an EDM volunteer do?

  • Gather information: Interview the child, school personnel, DHS worker, and placement facility staff about child’s education needs.  Review appropriate school reports, assessments/evaluations, and education records; including a review of DHS case files, and educational summaries with DHS workers and DHS and provider agencies.  Attend school meetings when asked to do so by the school.  Observe the child in class, with classmates, with other and school personnel.
  • Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings when necessary.
  • Appear in court: Attend court hearings concerning the child if requested or if so desired, but not required, except for the initial hearing.
  • Explain what is going on: Have regular, in-person contact with the child sufficient to have in-depth knowledge of the child and to make fact-based recommendations pursuant to their educational needs.
  • "Be the glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives.
  • Make decisions about services: Ensure that children are receiving appropriate educational services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child's education to the appropriate professionals.
  • Monitor case plans and court orders: Ensure that the judicial, child welfare and education systems are moving ahead to secure educational stability achievement and engagement as outlined in court report.  Document court order compliance with educational orders.
  • Keep the court informed:  Update the court on developments.
  • Ensure representation of child's best interest:  Attend parent-teacher conferences, sign report cards, permission slips, school documents, and other appropriate meetings regarding the child.  Participate at the meetings concerning the child and/or initiate request to have meeting if necessary.

Will I need to travel?

CASA Volunteers are responsible for providing their own transportation as a CASA Volunteer. Volunteers visit children in their placements: foster homes, kinship homes, residential treatment facilities, and group homes. Most children CASA serves are placed within Philadelphia County, and some are placed out of county. Geographic location cannot be a major consideration when making case matches, as children’s placements, unfortunately, are subject to change. CASA Philadelphia Volunteers use many modes of transportation including their own vehicle, public transportation, or paid ride services.

What sort of support will I receive?

  • You will be supported every step of the way!
  • You will be paired with a staff supervisor who will communicate with you regularly via phone and email.
  • You will receive supervision, including group supervision with other volunteers.
  • You will have opportunities to attend in-service training throughout the year and are required to have 12 hours of training credits each year.