CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are trained community volunteers appointed by judges to provide information and make recommendations to the Court about what is in the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse.
CASAs are objective community volunteers, who are not part of the child welfare system, who focus their efforts solely on providing a voice for the child and making recommendations regarding services, placement, visitation, reunification, and permanency. CASA volunteers monitor the child’s situation while they are in foster care to make sure they are safe and to ensure their psychological, physical, educational, and other needs are met, with the ultimate goal of finding them a safe, stable, and permanent home.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A CASA?
The National CASA Association requires that CASA volunteers must…
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be willing to complete necessary background checks, provide references, and participate in an interview prior to being accepted into the program
- Complete a minimum of 30 hours of training before accepting their first case
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed (a year and a half, on average)
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO BE A CASA?
There are no educational or previous employment requirements for becoming a CASA volunteer. People from all cultures and professions, and of all ethnic and educational backgrounds, are welcome and encouraged to volunteer. Once accepted into the program, you will receive thorough training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system, and the special needs of abused and neglected children.
Once training is completed, volunteers continue to have the support of their local CASA program staff, as well as opportunities for continued education and resources provided by the Kentucky CASA Network and the National CASA Association.
WHAT DUTIES MUST BE PERFORMED BY CASAS?
CASAs typically take on one or two cases at a time. To ensure they are acting in the child’s best interest and working towards their goal of finding a safe and permanent home, CASA volunteers must…
- Visit the child regularly (minimum once per month)
- Interview relevant parties (teachers, doctors, family members, etc.)
- Monitor the child’s home environment
- Research their case and review court records
- File reports (One initial, then updates going forward)
- Participate in treatment planning conferences
- Identify and advocate for services for the child
- Attend court hearings (this may include providing testimony when necessary)
- Help ensure that the Court’s orders are being followed
- Help the child understand the court proceedings and decisions
- Stay engaged until the child is in a safe, permanent home (this could include return to parent)