A CASA volunteer fulfills many roles, acting as investigator, facilitator, case monitor, and as a source of information and resources for families. CASA volunteers provide a necessary service that local and state governments would otherwise have to pay for, such as doing research on the child’s situation in alternative care, and working with parents to ensure completion of their court-ordered service plan. CASA Volunteers:
Our volunteers represent nearly every age group, ethnicity, profession, educational background and lifestyle there is. They are teachers, business professionals, healthcare workers, college students, stay at home moms, and retired persons. They are anywhere from 21 to over 70 years of age. Some have a high school education, while others have advanced degrees. In short, there is no typical CASA volunteer. However, the one thing all of our volunteers have in common is a genuine interest in the well being of the children we serve. A good advocate can communicate well verbally and in writing, has basic computer skills, is persistent and committed, and understands the significance and responsibility associated with their role. For an official list of requirements for our volunteer advocates, click here.
A large percentage of our CASA volunteers (52%) work full time and find the CASA experience flexible enough to accommodate their schedules. Our volunteers spend, on average, between 2-5 hours per week during the life of a case. CASA volunteers do go to court several times a year, and regularly attend family visits and occasional meetings that take place during the workday. The majority of these are set with ample advance notice. Many CASA volunteer duties – such as visiting with the child, reading reports and records, and sending e-mails — can be done outside of regular work hours and on the volunteer’s own time.
The safety of CASA volunteer advocates is one of our top priorities. To this end, each volunteer is assigned a staff Advocacy Supervisor who will serve as a source of support throughout the life of their case, and through the duration of their time at CASA. We never expect or encourage our volunteer advocates to participate in any activity that causes them to feel unsafe.
CASA volunteers are assigned to a case after the alleged child abuse or neglect has occurred and the child is placed in foster care. The CASA’s focus is on determining the child’s current and future needs. There is no doubt that working a case can be difficult at times, both emotionally and otherwise. To ensure that volunteer advocates receive the support they need, each volunteer is paired with a CASA staff Advocacy Supervisor who works closely alongside the volunteer to provide guidance throughout the case.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) investigates reports of child abuse and neglect. If it is determined that a child is in imminent danger, DFPS will remove him/her from their home and place them in foster/alternative care.
CASA is appointed by the court to provide advocacy services for children. CASA does not play a role in, or investigate the circumstances of, the child’s removal from his or her home, and does not provide counseling or other therapeutic services. Our agency has only one program: court advocacy for the best interests of the child or children in a CPS abuse or neglect case.
In a word, YES. CASA volunteers offer children a consistent helping hand to guide them through the foster care system and provide a strong voice to advocate on their behalf. A growing number of studies have found that, as compared to children who do not have a CASA volunteer assigned to their case, children who have a CASA: