A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer appointed by the Juvenile Court who advises the court about the best interests of a child. 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.”
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. As one volunteer said: Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
- 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.
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.
Those who wish to be a CASA volunteer, must:
- Be 21 years old
- Be willing to complete necessary background checks, submit a written application, provide references and participate in an interview
- Complete a minimum of 30 hours of pre-service training (view our Events & News webpage for information on the next training session)
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed