What is a CASA Volunteer?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of abused and neglected children in court.
What is the CASA Volunteer’s role?
A CASA Volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future. The CASA Volunteer writes reports to the Juvenile Court so that the Judge can determine if it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster care, be placed with other relatives, or be freed for permanent adoption.
How does a CASA Volunteer investigate a case?
In order to prepare reports to the Court, the CASA Volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA Volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child — school, medical and case worker reports; and other documents.
How does the role of a CASA Volunteer differ from an attorney?
The CASA Volunteer does not provide legal representation. That is the role of the attorney. However, the CASA Volunteer does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases.
Is there a “typical” CASA Volunteer?
CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of educational and ethnic backgrounds.
According the National CASA report, in the U.S. in 2012 there were:
- 950 CASA offices
- 76,000 volunteers
- 251,000 children served
How many cases on average does a CASA Volunteer carry at a time?
An average caseload is one case per volunteer.
How many CASA programs are there?
Data from the 2012 National CASA report indicate 933 programs in 49 states.
How effective have CASA programs been?
Research suggests that children who have been assigned CASA Volunteers tend to spend less time in court and less time within the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation. Judges have observed that CASA children also have better chances of finding permanent homes than non-CASA children.
How much time does it require?
Each case is different. A CASA Volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work about 10-15 hours a month.
Our mission is to prevent child abuse & neglect and to recruit & train volunteers as advocates to help those who have abused or neglected so every abused or neglected child in Shelby County has a safe, permanent home, free from abuse & neglect.