What does a CASA Volunteer do?
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are volunteers appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children and youth in court and other settings. A CASA Volunteer acts as the voice of the child, offering another set of eyes and ears for the court. A CASA Volunteer is required to meet with the child at last twice a month, attend and document court proceedings, helps the child or youth understand what is happening, and recommends any services for them. As a member of the professional team assigned to the child, the CASA’s unique perspective is important to ensuring the best outcome for the child and the family.
Do I need to have any special skills to become a CASA volunteer?
No special background or education is required to become a CASA Volunteer. We encourage people from all backgrounds and professions to join our volunteer program. Once accepted into the program, you will receive all necessary training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system and the special needs of abused and neglected children. In addition, all CASA Volunteers are assigned a staff Advocate Supervisor who will ensure that the CASA Volunteer has all the tools and information needed to successfully advocate for the child.
Are there any other requirements for becoming a CASA?
Yes. A CASA Volunteer must:
- Be 21+ years old
- Hold a high school degree or equivalent
- Pass a background check
- Be willing to provide references and participate in an interview
- Complete 40 hours of pre-service training (includes homework and court observations)
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Pledge 15-20 hours a month for at least 18 months
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed
How does volunteering in Denver as a CASA differ from a social worker?
Social workers are employed by the Denver Department of Human Services and have multiple children and youth on their caseloads, whereas a CASA Volunteer is an advocate for one child, youth or sibling group. The CASA Volunteer is an independent officer of the court and works with the social worker in promoting the child’s best interests.
How is a CASA Volunteer different from an attorney?
The CASA Volunteer does not provide legal representation for the child in the courtroom. CASA Volunteers do work closely with the attorneys on the case, who are known as Guardians ad Litem (GAL). CASA volunteers provide their own independent investigation and directly make recommendations to the court.
Do judges, attorneys, and social workers support CASA?
Child Advocates – Denver CASA is well respected within the child welfare system. Volunteers are welcome in all the court rooms within the Juvenile Court, and judges often commend our CASA Volunteers for their dedication and insight. Social workers, attorneys, teachers, therapists, physicians and other professionals are willing to cooperate with our advocates because they know our volunteers undergo extensive training and maintain objectivity as officers of the court. Nationally, CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
How does the CASA program differ from other mentoring programs?
A CASA Volunteer in Denver only serves children and youth who are in the Denver Juvenile Court system. While CASA volunteers develop a relationship with the children and youth through weekly visits, they also conduct an independent investigation, which looks into their overall well-being. The CASA gathers information about the child, writes court reports, and attends court hearings, as well as many other related meetings and appointments. CASA volunteers can also be assigned to infants and very young children.
How much time does it take to be a CASA volunteer?
All volunteers must complete 40 hours of pre-service training. The time commitment to a case varies depending upon its severity and how many children are involved. On average, a CASA can expect to spend approximately 15 to 20 hours a month on a case.
Do I need to make a long-term commitment to the program?
We ask for an 18-month commitment when you become a child advocate. Once assigned as a CASA volunteer, you are required to have contact with the child or youth at least twice a month throughout the duration of the case.
What sort of support will I receive?
You will be supported every step of the way by your case supervisor. You will also have opportunities to continue your education locally with Child Advocates – Denver CASA and Colorado CASA, and have access to online resources provided by National CASA, including a resource library, national Facebook community and national conference.