CASA provides quality court-based advocacy for abused and neglected children. Volunteers are matched to a case where their skills and training will benefit the children most. CASA volunteers work to get their child’s court case expedited not only in respect to the court system but also to ensure that the appropriate services are given to the children quickly.
Basic Function: A CASA/GAL is a trained community volunteer appointed by the Juvenile Abuse/Neglect Court Judge to speak for the best interests of an abused, neglected or dependent child.
Major Duties and Responsibilities:
Meet face-to-face with child at least once a month.
Act as an independent gatherer of information, speaking with the child and relevant adults (parents, involved family members, school officials, medical personnel and others involved in the child’s life who might have facts about the case);
Review appropriate records and reports;
Observe the child and significant others.
Complete official Court reports, submitted to the Judge at scheduled hearings/reviews.
Always keep in mind the goal of providing the child with a safe, permanent home.
Volunteers are required to make an 18 – 24 month commitment to the program.
Volunteers are expected to attend all court hearings on their cases, however, each volunteer is matched with a CASA staff person who can stand in court on behalf of the volunteer, if needed.
Volunteers are expected to be available for case assignment and to accept cases upon completion of all training requirements, and after being sworn in by the Juvenile Court Judge, unless other arrangements have been made.
CASA volunteers, on the average, spend 10 – 15 hours a month on each case.
Necessary Knowledge, Skills, and Requirements:
- Ability to keep all client and court information confidential
- Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
- Ability to respect and relate to people from various backgrounds.
- Ability to maintain objectivity and to exhibit good common sense.
- Willingness to submit to background checks.
- Completion of education resulting in either a high school diploma or GED.
- Must be 21 years of age.
Advocates are to conduct themselves in an ethical manner which upholds the credibility and dignity of the CASA mission by conducting all business in an honest, fair, professional and humane manner. Advocates shall not at any time bring discredit to the CASA Program.
A volunteer has three main roles:
- to serve as a party to the court proceedings, acting as a fact finder for the judge;
- to speak for the child in the courtroom, either directly or through the attorney representing CASA, representing the child’s best interests;
- to act as a “watchdog” for the child during the life of the case, working along with social workers, counselors and other involved professionals, making every effort to bring the case to a swift and appropriate conclusion.
By handling only one or two families at a time (in most instances), the CASA has time to thoroughly explore the history and circumstances of each assigned case.