CASA provides quality court-based advocacy for abused and neglected children. Children are referred to our program from a variety of sources including attorneys, caseworkers, service providers, and family members but are formally appointed by the Juvenile Court Judges.
CASA 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 in addition to helping the child they’re working with find permanency sooner.
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.
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.
Major Duties and Responsibilities:
Complete an extensive, independent review of each case:
- Meet face-to-face with child at least once a month, and meet at least once, face to face, before the beginning of the Adjudicatory hearing (per IL Juvenile Court Act).
- 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.
Report findings to the court by submitting formal reports to the Judge at scheduled hearings/reviews; that is, providing a written report containing factual information discovered since the last court date, and containing recommendations as to what is in the best interests of the child.
Ensure representation of the child’s best interest:
- Attend all court hearings to see that all relevant facts are presented and to be well informed about the status of the legal proceedings;
- Attend appropriate staffings and agency reviews regarding the child;
Monitor case following a court hearing or decision as designated by the court:
- Ensure, to the best of CASA’s ability, that the judicial and child welfare systems are moving ahead, in a timely manner, to secure a safe, permanent home for the child;
- Ensure, to the best of CASA’s ability, that court-ordered services are provided, in a timely manner, to the child and family.
- Ensure, to the best of CASA’s ability, that parties are attending appointments as to recommended services.
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 required to attend all court hearings on their cases, unless the hearing is one where attendance is not required.
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.
- Ability to transport self (ownership of an automobile), and agreement not to transport the child.
- Willingness to submit to CANTS/LEADS background checks
- A basic understanding of child development and family relationships.
- The CASA/GAL will receive no monetary or other form of compensation for the work performed on their cases
- The CASA/GAL will not supervise visitation between the child and the parents, grandparents, etc.
- The CASA/GAL will not bring the child into his/her home
- The CASA/GAL will not provide any service deemed to be the responsibility of the social service agency(ies) involved with the child.
- 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.
Every child deserves a home.