Frequently Asked Questions
Can a CASA volunteer really make a difference?
Research studies have shown that the introduction of just one caring adult in the life of a child who has experienced trauma can change the course of that child’s life forever. A Court appointed volunteer advocate makes a profound and positive difference for a foster child.
Do I need any special training or educational background?
No special skills are required—only the desire and commitment to make a difference. CASA provides the necessary training to become a CASA volunteer. CASA volunteers will learn about the child welfare system, how to work with children involved in the system, and other skills necessary to help their assigned child.
Is there an age requirement?
Yes. You must be 21 years of age to become a CASA volunteer.
What commitments would I be making?
When you become a CASA volunteer, you agree to work with a child for at least one year, spend 10-15 hours a month on the case, maintain confidentiality, provide documentation regarding your work on the case, complete 12 hours of continuing education each year of assignment, and abide by the protocols that CASA has established. Approximately twice a year, volunteers submit reports to the court and they attend at least two court hearings regarding the child. For more information, please see Roles and Responsibilities of a CASA volunteer.
What hours would I be volunteering?
You set your own hours based on your schedule, and the schedule of the child and their caregivers. Expect to spend at least two hours a week interacting with the child, making phone calls, sending emails, researching issues, etc. During times when there is a report due, or a change is occurring, more time may be required. Many volunteers spend time with their assigned child in the evening hours and on the weekends; having availability during the week and on weekends is important as children’s schedules are unknown when CASAs are assigned.
How do I begin my advocacy?
Your first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend an Info Session. Next you will complete the volunteer application. Once your application has been submitted and reviewed/accepted, a case supervisor or other staff member will contact you to schedule an interview. Please see the Becoming a Volunteer page to learn more.
I’m not sure I can commit to become an advocate right now. Is there something else I can do to help?
CASA has a variety of volunteer opportunities that would allow you to support our mission to serve foster children. You might consider assisting with special events, recruitment activities or get involved in fundraising projects. Please see the Friends of CASA Board page to learn more about becoming a Board Director. For more options, please see our list of other volunteer opportunities by visiting the Other Volunteer Opportunities link.
What kind of support would I have from the CASA staff?
Each volunteer is assigned a case supervisor. Volunteers can contact their case supervisor Monday-Friday; case supervisors’ work hours vary slightly but occur during traditional business hours. If your assigned case supervisor is not available, volunteers may call the office to access other case supervisors or CASA staff. The case supervisor helps prep the volunteer for court, assists in preparing court reports, and is available to provide advice and guidance to the volunteer. CASA volunteers can also attend Volunteer Support Group meetings every other month to discuss cases, share resources, receive peer support from other CASAs, and earn continuing education hours. Volunteers may give their case supervisor feedback about their volunteerism experience, issues/concerns, and suggestions regarding the CASA program, etc.
What sort of things would I do with the child?
This will depend on the age and interests of the child, as well as your own interests, and the guidelines of their caregivers. If you are working with a teen, you might spend time helping them with their resume or help them search for summer employment. If you are working with a younger child, you might take them to a park or museum. CASA often has free tickets to museums and other sporting events that may interest your child.
Can my assigned child come to my home or meet my family and friends?
No. Due to confidentiality and the need for boundaries within the CASA/child relationship, these activities are not allowed.
What else does a CASA volunteer do besides visit the child?
CASA volunteers gather information and prepare reports regarding the best interests and needs of the child; these reports are reviewed and considered by the judge and other parties. CASA volunteers may also be asked to attend meetings regarding school, placement, and the child’s overall situation. CASA volunteers are legally appointed to their child and have access to confidential information such as school and child welfare services. They also help locate resources for the child.
Do I need to own a car?
You must have an active license, car insurance, and no more than three (3) points on your DMV record. You need to have regular access to a vehicle (whether you own a car, share a car, or use a car-share service), as this will impact your ability to visit a child, attend court hearings and meetings, and gather information regarding the case. This particularly makes a difference in your ability to transport a child for activities (which can be a good opportunity for them to feel comfortable with you).
If I have had past experiences with the court system will that be a problem?
Possibly. Because of the vulnerable nature of these children, CASA screens volunteers and requires a Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal background screening as well as reference checks. Some situations will automatically exclude a potential volunteer, but others may not. Volunteer records are reviewed by the CASA review team and evaluated based on our protocol. Some determining factors include length of time since the court involvement and the nature of the issue.
Do I need to have an email account?
Yes, you will need to have an email account and will need to check it regularly; at least twice a week or more often as needed. CASA, service providers, and some youth all rely on email heavily for communication. However, you can create an email address specifically for your CASA related work through one of the many free web-based services if you’d like.