What is CASA?
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASAs are community-based volunteers who are appointed by judges to serve in child abuse and neglect cases. Once assigned to a child, the volunteer researches the child’s case, reviews documents, interviews relevant people, and makes a report to the court as to what is in the best interest of the child, in terms of services, placement, visitation, reunification, and permanency.
CASAs are objective, community volunteers who are not part of the child welfare system, who focus their efforts solely on gathering information and making recommendations regarding children in abuse, neglect, or dependency cases– who would otherwise have no voice. Volunteers are carefully screened and are very well trained; they receive a minimum 30 hours of initial training and 12 hours of ongoing training each year.
CASA volunteers monitor the child’s situation while they are in foster care to make sure they are safe and to make sure their psychological, physical, educational and other needs are met. Volunteers are often the only constant the child knows as he/she moves through the labyrinth of the child welfare system. When a CASA volunteer accepts a case, they must agree to stay with it until the child has a safe, permanent home. Because volunteers carry only 1 or 2 cases at a time and are assigned to each case for its life, they typically have a depth and breadth of information that other parties may not have. Because of this extensive focus on the child, our national motto is “I am for the Child.”