Q: What are the basic requirements for becoming a CASA volunteer?
A: All CASAs must complete a volunteer interview, attend the required training program, and submit to a criminal/background check. In addition:
- Volunteers must be 21 or older
- Volunteers need to commit one to two years of service after they have completed training
- Volunteers must have a valid driver’s license, their own transportation and possess an ability to travel throughout surrounding counties if needed. Any vehicle that might be used to transport youth must be insured.
- Volunteers need some daytime flexibility to attend court hearings and case related meetings
- Volunteers must be able to meet deadlines and adhere to required timelines regarding paperwork and court reports
- Volunteers must complete a 33 hour training course before obtaining a case
- Collegiate students must reside in Bloomington during the summer or affirm the necessary willingness and capability of returning for case related activities throughout the summer duration
It is desirable that volunteers have effective oral and written communication skills with the ability to submit the required paperwork within a timely manner. Volunteer advocates should express a mature and child focused mentality. While maintaining objectivity, all volunteers must adhere to keep the confidentiality of the children, their families and court records. Volunteers must adhere to the mission, rules and guidelines of the juvenile court and the Monroe County CASA Program.
Q: How often should a volunteer see a CASA child?
A: This will vary depending on the child and his or her circumstances, the distance of the placement, the age of the child, etc. Typically, a CASA volunteer will meet with the child once a month. In between visits, phone calls to check in with the child may be made.
Q: How many volunteer hours are required each month to be a CASA volunteer?
A: It varies from person to person, case to case. But on average, the minimum time spent is 8-16 hours per month.
Q: What is the length of time a CASA volunteer must commit?
A: The minimum commitment is one to two years after training requirements are complete. However, the program encourages volunteers to be there for the child with the expectation that individual case duration may vary.
Q: Will I be doing all of the work by myself?
A: Even though you will be assigned to a case by yourself, you won’t be alone. new CASAs have the opportunity to be matched up with a mentor when they take their first case. Your mentor can be a great resource to you when you have questions or concerns, or even to help out in just getting started. The DCS caseworker assigned to the case can also go with you on initial visits to meet family members, children, etc. Also, when assigned a case, you’ll also be assigned to a CASA Case Coordinator. Your Case Coordinator will be there to support you throughout the entire life of the case.
Q: Do I need to have a certain educational background or experience to be a CASA?
A: No. Prior to being assigned a case, you will go through an extensive training program. The training you will receive will prepare you and you will be paired with a Case Coordinator to support you on your assigned cases.
Q: Doesn’t this work represent an extreme emotional impact on the CASA?
A: The CASA staff understands that being a CASA can be very emotional. Our volunteers how found that the benefits far outweigh the temporary discomfort when they see a child has found a safe, permanent home where they can relax and be a kid. One where they don’t have to worry about where they will get dinner or if mom will come home that day. Our CASAs really do have a lasting impact on the lives of the children that we serve.
Q: Is the responsibility of ensuring a child’s safety scary?
A: The CASA is not responsible for fixing the child’s situation. That is the job of the judge and the court system. The CASA’s job is to observe what is happening with the child and report this along with any recommendations to the court. In doing this, the CASA will coordinate frequently with the CASA Case Coordinator.
Q: Do the judges really read the CASA reports and value the recommendations of the CASA?
A: Yes, the judges understand that CASA volunteers may have more time to get to know the child and provide the most up to date and accurate information about the child and family. This is invaluable to them in making the best possible decision for the child.
Q: What else does a CASA volunteer do besides visit the child?
A: CASA volunteers gather information and prepare reports regarding the best interests and needs of the child. CASA volunteers are legally appointed to their child and have access to confidential information such as school and medical records.
Q: What kind of support would I have from the CASA staff?
A: When you take a case you will be partnered with a CASA Case Coordinator. The coordinator will work with you throughout the case, attend home visits and case conferences when needed and help with your reports. The CASA Supervisor will collaborate with you through the process and will be able to provide information about your child’s case, court information, reports, rules about the CASA program, etc.
Q: Where do the children live?
A: The children may live in their biological home, foster homes, and group homes throughout the state. Some have been there just a few days, or several months. Getting to know the rules and behavioral programs in the residential home your child is living is important. Always develop educated and meaningful relationships with the parents, case managers, and foster parents.
Q: Once I become a volunteer, what kinds of activities should I do with my CASA youth?
A: 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 walking around the mall or playing ball. If you are working with a younger child you might go to the park, play a game together or go to the library.
Q: Can volunteers give gifts to CASA youth?
A: Monroe County CASA discourages extravagant gift giving. However, modest gifts are allowed on birthdays and special holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Always consider what is allowed/not allowed at the place where they are living, and keep in mind if siblings are living in the home.
Q: Can a volunteer take a child out of town, out of the county, to the city, etc.?
A: No, as a CASA volunteer you will not be allowed to take the child out of Monroe County.
Q: Can a volunteer take a child to the pool or to swim at Lake Monroe?
A: No. Our CASA program does not allow CASA Volunteers to take their CASA child to the pool or any lake in the county.
Q: Why can’t a volunteer take youth to their home, bring their family on a visit or take the youth to their place of employment?
A: The children a volunteer works with are youth that may already have Moms and Dads. As a CASA program we have rules regarding confidentiality and to help keep boundaries in order to best fulfill the role of the CASA volunteer. Our volunteers are advocates and they must keep CASA boundaries, remain objective and always act professionally. As a staff we do realize that it may be hard to understand the CASA role and boundary. Volunteers should always talk with a supervisor when emotions become charged and they are feeling confused about the many rules we have as CASA volunteers.
Q: What if I can’t be an Advocate but still want to help?
A: There are many other ways that you can help CASA. We often need help with special events, mailings, and fundraising activities. Call our office and find out what opportunities are available for you. If you find that donating your time is not possible, a financial donation is always welcome. Please see our donation page for more information.