A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a screened, trained community volunteer who is appointed by a Juvenile Court Judge to advocate for an abused and/or neglected child in juvenile court deprivation proceedings. The CASA makes independent recommendations to the court for services that focus on meeting the needs of each individual child. The CASA also advocates for each child to be placed in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.
- Visits and interviews the child
- Gathers independent information about the child to make recommendations to the court in the child’s best interest
- Interviews the parents, guardians or caretakers of the child
- Interviews the social worker and other service providers and review any records relating to the family
- Prepares written reports for the court and submits them to the Volunteer Coordinator prior to court
- Seeks cooperative solutions with other participants in the child’s case if possible
- Attends and participate in court hearings and other related meetings such as the Citizens Panel Review
- Testifies, if needed, to inform the court of changes in the child’s situation
- Identifies potential resources within the family and community to meet the child’s needs
- Keeps all records and information confidential
- Documents case activity accurately and in a timely manner and forwards copy to the Volunteer Coordinator
- Monitors provisions of service plans and court orders
- Has monthly contact with the child
- Explains the role of CASA to the family and the child
- Consults with Volunteer Coordinator and Program Director for support/guidance
- Informs the Volunteer Coordinator and Program Director monthly on the status of the case
- Advocates for the child in the community
- Maintains focus on the child until permanency is achieved
- Completes monthly reports
- Informs the court of the child’s wishes
- Attends CASA Volunteer support meetings
The main qualification is a sincere concern for children. The volunteer must be a mature adult with good verbal and written communication skills. A CASA Volunteer must be available to attend all court hearings and panel reviews. The volunteer must be able to commit to the program for at least one year or, preferably until permanency is achieved. Essential qualities include the ability to be objective and non-judgmental.
The process of becoming a CASA Volunteer requires a written application, four references, a child protective services check, a criminal records check and a federal fingerprint check which are all conducted at no cost to the volunteer. The minimum age for becoming a CASA is 21 years of age. A personal interview will be conducted by the Volunteer Coordinator. The volunteer must complete 40 hours of required training that includes courtroom observation. The fully trained and screened volunteer will be sworn in by the juvenile court judge prior to the assignment of their first case. Case assignment continues until the child is in a permanent home.
Training and Supervision:
The initial training offered by CASA Ogeechee has been developed by National CASA and adapted by Georgia CASA. Ongoing training is required and will be offered by the Program Director and Volunteer Coordinator. CASA Volunteers are supervised by the CASA Ogeechee staff. Approval as a CASA Volunteer is at the discretion of CASA Ogeechee.