What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
CASA Volunteers are the True Voice of the Child in the Courtroom and a Direct Support for a Judge Hearing the Case.
Your foster Child has been appointed a Court Appointed Special Advocate Volunteer (CASA). What does this mean to you? Who are these volunteers, and how are they involved in helping your foster child be successful? Well, first things first, your child has been given a gift by the Juvenile Court System. Not every child receives this extra support, depending on your community's local area of need. Only about 1 in 3 foster children have an Advocate. The National CASA volunteer office wants to give every foster child an Advocate. Advocates are qualified and amazing people who step up and put the time and effort into providing the courts with an accurate picture of the child's perspective and best interests. When you meet an advocate for the first time, remember they are here for the same reason you are; they see a child in need and have decided that this is how they can help. The CASA local office has vetted each volunteer, the advocate will have been trained, and the courts swear them in.
Advocates come from various backgrounds and experiences. They are at least 21 years of age and have passed Criminal and Child Protective Service Central Registry checks; these checks involve fingerprinting for any background, criminal, or child abuse behavior. Every volunteer attends about 40 hours of training. They learn the responsibility of how to serve as a CASA advocate and their role within the court system. Before any CASA Advocate is selected for a child or sibling group, they are sworn in by the foster child's local juvenile court. The judge appoints them to serve on a specific foster child's case. An advocate usually commits to a minimum of one year of service to that child at a time. Still, an advocate will often follow the child until the child leaves the court system.
When an Advocate for CASA is recruited, the courts are looking for someone who can remain objective. They must do this while dealing with families and children in crisis or trying to find their feet again following a life-changing situation. At all times, these volunteers work for the child's benefit and will give the courts a comprehensive report by observation and interviews with family members and professionals involved with the foster child's case. They often attend the court to support the child and give evidence to help the judge make an informed decision about the direction the case will take. The court respects CASA volunteers, and their reports have a lot of weight. A CASA volunteer maintains a very high standard of confidentiality. But their goal is still to give the courts a clear and unbiased review of the foster child's journey within the foster care system, including your home. These reports will include recommendations for services and support and potentially an opinion on the next placement of a child. When you feel your foster child needs some extra services that aren’t being met, the CASA volunteer may be able to help. The CASA volunteer is a great resource to advocate for the child’s needs as their reports are sent directly to your foster child's judge.
The CASA volunteer regularly visits the foster child to build a relationship and support the child at home and in the community. On occasion, the CASA volunteer may take the child out for outings and can be a fun, dependable person in the foster child's life. The volunteer has committed to visiting once a month. They sometimes will see the child a lot more than this. They may also help with transportation to see family and friends who the guardian has approved.
The CASA volunteer desires to help you succeed within your foster parent role. They are additional support for you and your foster child’s welfare and needs. They are a partner with you in this journey. Be open about what you need and what you see is necessary for your child's success. They have a direct line to your foster child's judge.
CASA headquarters website, if you would like further first-hand information. CASA for Children