Thoughts from a CASA volunteer Lisa Raliegh: "When I interviewed and trained to be a CASA volunteer - I had no idea the experience would be so personally trans-formative. I was fortunate to be assigned a case that showed me the true meaning of family. From the kinship foster care provider who stepped in to provide housing, structure and love to the mom who fought hard to be there for her kids, I was honestly inspired at every turn. The CASA supervisors and DHS case workers are dedicated and thoughtful in their work and I enjoyed a positive relationship with everyone involved. Thank you to both organizations for their commitment to families and children in crisis. I would encourage everyone to take a deeper look at volunteering to be a CASA!"
What do CASA volunteers do?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act. Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them. CASA volunteers provide a voice from the community, advocating for the best interests of the child.
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.
What are the Benefits of Being a CASA?
- Interact directly with the children
- Provide a purposeful and significant voice for children in abuse and neglect situations
- Become part of the team helping inform the court and heal families
- Develop interpersonal skills and abilities navigating situations by working towards positive solutions for the child
- Learn about Dependency and Neglect Court and Social Service systems
- Become an officer of the court
Who Can be a CASA Volunteer?
We welcome people from all walks of life. You do not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. Good writing and computer skills are required. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.
Must be 21 years old or older. You must pass a background check, participate in 32 hours of training (15 hours in the classroom, 17 hours online), and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half, on average). Read more about the requirements and role of being a CASA volunteer.
What is CASA? What is CASA for Children? What is CASA for Parents? What is CASA for Professionals?