What Does it Mean to Be a CASA Volunteer?
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.”
How much time does it take to be a CASA Volunteer?
All volunteers must complete a 30-hour pre-service training. The time commitment to a case 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 research. On average you can expect to spend approximately
15-20 hours a month.
Do I need to make a long term commitment to the program?
You are asked to dedicate yourself to a case until it is closed. The average case lasts about a year and a half. Most CASA/GAL programs require that a volunteer commit to serve for at least one year.
Do I need to have any special skills or meet any requirements?
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.
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. 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.
CASA volunteers are people like you. They’re teachers, business people, retirees, stay-at-home moms, grandparents, college students; extraordinary people who want to make certain the voices of abused and neglected children are heard.
CASA volunteers get to know the child and speak to everyone involved in the child’s life, including their family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers, and others.
The information they gather and their recommendations help the court make informed decisions. CASA volunteers commit to a child until the case is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.
Judges truly value the observations and recommendations of CASA volunteers, knowing that they have the child’s best interests at heart.
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) help break the cycle of child abuse.
- 66% of people in Texas prisons today were in foster care yesterday.
- 75% of foster children without a CASA volunteer come back into the system (foster care)
- A child without a CASA volunteer spends 2+ years in foster care a child with a CASA volunteer spends 1 year in foster care.
- In Nueces County, a Child Protective Services worker is responsible for 60-65 cases per month.
- A CASA volunteer is responsible for 1 case at a time allowing the volunteer to give quality one on one time to each case allowing them to make informed, knowledgeable recommendations on behalf of the children.
*Source: Study conducted by National CASA and U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs, 2006
Statements from former CASA youth
While my sisters and brothers and I were at the emergency shelter, my CASA came to see us and answered all of our questions. She even found my mom and went to see her in jail. She told my mom that we missed her and were worried about her. Today my CASA is the only one on my case who has ever met my mom. My CASA also understood that it was important that my brothers and sisters stayed together because we are family. She encouraged us to care about each other even when we got mad and fought with each other. My CASA knew how important it was for me to know my sisters and brother were doing ok and during the time we were separated she helped us visit one another and told me how they were doing. Then she helped us move to two new foster homes that were only a block away from each other. Last year my CASA found my oldest brother. My CASA called him and now we can call one another. She got pictures of him for me too. Current CASA child
Every time my CASA volunteer told me that she was coming to visit, she never backed down from her word. At first I thought that she never got tired or sick but then realized that she was dedicated to her CASA kids. Nothing would stop her from making her visits. My CASA worker helped me get my G.E.D., my driver’s license, taught me parenting skills, and helped me find a job and a place to live. She really showed me how much she cared and loved not only me but my daughter as well. CASA has been a constant thing in my life. I don’t know where I would be right now without CASA. God bless you and keep up the good work. Former CASA youth