What does a CASA do?
When the Court appoints a CASA volunteer to work with a child, the weekly visits are just the beginning. The primary role of a Court Appointed Special Advocate is to:
- Determine the needs of the child by reading the child’s entire welfare file, connecting with teachers, foster parents, social workers, doctors, mental health professionals, relatives, parents, attorneys– everyone involved in the child’s life throughout the case.
- Facilitate social services and community resources to meet the needs of the child.
- Advocate for the child’s needs to be met promptly and thoroughly. Write thorough, accurate court reports.
- Monitor to ensure team members follow through on meeting the child’s needs.
- Be a trusted support for the child. In the sea of ever-changing faces, the CASA volunteer is the one person the child knows will keep coming back – each and every week.
Is CASA of Santa Cruz County the only one of its kind?
No, CASA of Santa Cruz County is one of more than 900 independent programs nationwide.
How did CASA programs get started?
In 1977, a Seattle judge, concerned about not having sufficient evidence with which to make decisions involving children victimized by abuse and neglect, conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court.
How and when did CASA of Santa Cruz County get started?
CASA of Santa Cruz County was founded in February 1992, as our community’s response to a tragic case of severe neglect that occurred here in 1991.
What does the typical volunteer look like?
CASA volunteers come from all professions and educational backgrounds. CASA provides the training you will need. They come from all walks of life and are truly some of our community’s most impressive adults. More than half are employed, 12% are students, 40% work full-time jobs, and 18% are retired. Many have children of their own. The majority of volunteers are between 40 and 60 years old but our current volunteers range in age from 21 to 82.
Can I volunteer without taking on a CASA case/child?
Yes. Friends of CASA seeks members to help with fundraising and occasional office support.
Can I work full time and still be a CASA?
Yes. 40% of our CASA volunteers work full time.
How many hours a week does it take to be a CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers make a commitment of 2 – 4 hours a week.
What is the length of the CASA volunteer's commitment?
CASA volunteers commit to their child for up to two years, or until the case is resolved.
I travel occasionally, can I continue to do that as a CASA?
Yes. Although consistency is one of the prime functions of a volunteer, most volunteers take vacations. We ask that you communicate with your Advocate Supervisor well in advance of travel dates.
Do CASA volunteers have to go to court?
Yes. Typically volunteers go to court 2 – 3 times a year. One of the most important and rewarding aspects of being an Advocate is making recommendations to the court for your CASA child. Judges rely heavily on the Advocate’s court report when making decisions about the welfare and future of a CASA child.
What age do you have to be in order to be a CASA?
You must be at least 21 years of age to be a CASA volunteer.
Do you have to have knowledge of the legal system to be a CASA?
No. CASA volunteers come from all professions and educational backgrounds. CASA provides the training you will need.
Can I bring my children with me when I'm volunteering as a CASA?
No. CASA children need one-on-one time with their adult volunteer.
Is this the same as fostering a child?
No it is not. A foster parent opens their home temporarily to a child or group of children in need of placement. CASA will gather information on how a child is doing in their foster home, and will interact with foster parents to gather information from them on the child’s wellbeing. Children do not live with their CASA volunteers, nor do they visit their volunteers’ homes or meet the volunteers’ family.
Can I take my CASA child home with me for visits?
No. Volunteers are not allowed to take children home.
To whom does a CASA volunteer turn with questions or concerns?
Every volunteer has an Advocate Supervisor. He or she is available to answer all questions and concerns. Our job is to support CASA volunteers!
Do CASA volunteers meet the parents of their CASA child?
Most often, yes. CASA volunteers speak with everyone involved in the child’s life, including parents, teachers, social workers, mental health and medical providers.
How long is the CASA training?
Training totals 35 hours – 10 sessions of 3 hours each, plus court observation and a mock hearing. The training covers topics including domestic violence, child development, court proceedings and familial issues contributing to abuse and neglect.
How many CASA children have been served in Santa Cruz County?
CASA of Santa Cruz County has served over 2000 children since its inception in 1992.
What are the requirements of a CASA volunteer?
– Spend consistent, weekly time with your CASA child to provide support and consistency.
– Gather information about the child’s life by talking with everyone involved in his/her life.
– Inform the judge by making recommendations to the court.
How will I be matched with a child?
Before and after training, CASA staff review the trainee’s stated preferences and capabilities. A great deal of analysis and care go into matching Advocates and children. Advocates ultimately choose their own case from several proposed by CASA staff.
How is CASA funded?
CASA is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit agency. The bulk of CASA’s funding, nearly 75 percent, comes from fundraising events and donations from our community. Contributions from federal, state, and local government comprise close to 25 percent of the budget.