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Who are CASA Volunteers?
Court Appointed Special Advocates are trained citizens who are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of children in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers include victims of abuse and neglect for whom court intervention is needed to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
How does the CASA program work?
The CASA concept is based on the belief that every child has the right to a safe, permanent home. A juvenile court judge signs an order appointing CASA to a child’s case. A CASA is then assigned to a child as an appointed officer of the court. Unlike attorneys and social workers; however, the CASA volunteer speaks exclusively for the child’s best interests. By handling only one or two cases at a time, the CASA volunteer has time to thoroughly explore the history of each assigned case. There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to speak for a child’s best interests.
What are the benefits of a CASA program?
When a child has a CASA volunteer, he understands there is one special person whose only purpose is to help him or her. That special person continues to show up for the child during a difficult time. CASA volunteers speak up for children to have their needs met, to have safety, to have permanence. CASAs change a child’s story.
Is there a "typical" CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. Many are employed in regular full-time jobs but must have some flexibility to fulfill their duties. One does not have to have any experience in the child welfare or the legal system to become a CASA volunteer.
Do judges, attorneys, and social workers support CASA?
Yes. Juvenile court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint the CASA volunteer as an officer of the court. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the US Department of Justice.
What is the role of a CASA volunteer?
A CASA volunteer provides the judge with carefully researched background information about the child and the child’s family, to help the court make the best decisions about the child’s welfare and future. The CASA volunteer remains objective and knows the child well enough to make fact-based recommendation to the court that are in the child’s best interests. CASAs visit their child monthly, talk regularly with individuals involved in the child’s case, and monitor court orders. The CASA works to ensure the child has his needs met and a safe and permanent home.
How does a CASA volunteer investigate a case?
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, his or her parents, family members, social workers, teachers and school counselors, therapists, health providers, and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s situation or history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child, such as school, medical, social worker reports, and other documents. The CASA then provides a carefully researched report of the investigation to the court.
How does the CASA volunteer advocate relate to the child he or she represents?
CASA volunteers offer children trust and advocacy during hard and scary times. They get to know their CASA child, and maybe make puzzles together, play games, or simply talk or play basketball. CASAs are not friends or mentors per se; rather, they are a constant in a confusing system with many players and placements. CASA volunteers are role models, historians, trusted adults, and so important to children.
How are CASA volunteers trained?
Chesterfield CASA provides training to applicants that have been screened and selected to be accepted into training. CASA volunteers receive 40 hours of training, currently held mostly virtually, and are also required to observe court hearings.
How are CASA volunteers supported?
Chesterfield CASA staff have years of experience in child welfare and other services to children and families. Supervisors are assigned to volunteers to assist with continued learning and all things related to child advocacy, including attending court hearings. CASA supervisors and volunteers operate as a team to provide the strongest voice for the child.
How much time does it require?
Each case is different, but most CASA volunteers spend at least five hours per week working on their case.
How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved with a case?
The CASA volunteer continues on the case until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the child’s life.