The Tale of a CASA Volunteer
Why are CASA volunteers needed?
Each year in the United States nearly 400,000 children are abused, neglected, or abandoned by their families and end up playing a role in a real-life courtroom drama. Many of these children also become victims of an over-burdened court system which frequently does not have time to give detailed attention to each child who comes before it.
What do CASA volunteers do?
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) work for the Judge as appointed “friends” of the court, alongside attorneys and social workers. When a CASA volunteer is appointed to a child’s case, he or she is responsible for taking the time to find out as much as possible about that child. CASA volunteers search for information. They review records, interview parents, talk to teachers, neighbors and, most importantly, the child. These volunteers then submit a report to the court to recommend to the judge what’s best for a child’s future.
How important are CASA volunteers?
Perhaps the CASA volunteers’ most important contribution is their regular and close contact with the child. They become a much-needed support for the child, who may be living in an out-of-home placement, and who is overwhelmed by the complexities of the child welfare system. A CASA monitors a child’s case until a permanent plan for the child’s placement is approved by the court.
Who can become a CASA volunteer?
Potential CASA volunteers are mature and responsible. They can talk to people who are having problems. They have time to commit to the program. They care about children. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. They have a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. No special experience is required. Volunteers are selected on the basis of their objectivity, competence, and commitment.
What type of training is required?
Once accepted, volunteers are trained in a series of sessions about such subjects as courtroom procedure, the social service and juvenile court systems, and the special needs of children who have been abused and neglected. Pre-service training is a minimum of 30 hours. New volunteers have the option to be matched with an experienced volunteer who mentors them during the first three months of their case.
How much time does it take?
After initial training, the average involvement by a CASA volunteer is 10 to 15 hours a month. Volunteers are also expected to fulfill 12 hours per year of ongoing training, which includes group/individual supervision with the Advocate Manager. Volunteers are asked to make an 18 month commitment to the program.
What is my first step?
To learn more about the training curriculum submit your request here. If you are ready to submit an application to volunteer please visit our Volunteer Training Section.