It is important to find the right volunteer opportunity that fits your lifestyle and is also meaningful. At the same time, you want to ensure that the experience is impactful and rewarding for everyone involved. Read below to find out if volunteering with CASA is right for you!
What is a CASA?
A CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, is a community volunteer who is professionally trained to gather information about the child and his/her family and identify needs and possible services. The volunteer also will speak on behalf of the child in court and monitor court orders and case plans. This person should be compassionate, patient, objective, and open-minded. To effectively represent the children we work with, Monroe County CASA needs to increase our volunteer pool to reflect the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the children we serve.
Volunteer Commitments & Requirements
There are specific requirements needed for this volunteer position. Since the program involves children in the legal system, CASA volunteers must meet national standards to be trained and approved to take a case.
- Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license and access to transportation and submit to a background check. Beyond these requirements, Monroe County CASA is looking for caring, diverse individuals who are passionate about helping children.
- The time commitments necessary are completing a 33-hour training program, committing to 8-15 hours a month of volunteer work with some daytime flexibility, and must remain with the program for the life of a case, which is typically 1-2 years.
These requirements are necessary to be considered for the CASA program. However, beyond the legal and personal requirements, there is far more that goes into being a great volunteer.
Being a CASA Volunteer
Being a great CASA volunteer is not only achieved by meeting the requirements, but by also having the personal skills and dedication necessary to advocate for the child. One of the main responsibilities of a CASA is visiting the child and talking with them each month. The relationship between the CASA and the CASA youth should be comfortable and respectful at all times. The CASA volunteer is a consistent, caring adult that the child knows they can trust.
Being a great CASA volunteer is not only achieved by meeting the requirements, but by also having the personal skills and dedication necessary to support the child. One of the main responsibilities as a CASA is visiting the child and talking with them each month. CASA volunteers will also talk with the child’s parents to best understand the child’s needs. Other tasks include monitoring the situation and the child by reading through various legal documents, and attending and testifying in court hearings. CASA volunteers also participate in meetings with the family and those offering supportive services to preserve the family unit. All of these activities help the CASA volunteer prepare reports that will be presented to the court and used in reviewing the CHINS (Child in Need of Services) case. These reports are instrumental in providing the judge with information that determines the outcome of each case.
To learn more about the specific duties of a CASA volunteer, click here to read through the CASA Model.
Is Becoming a CASA Volunteer Right for You?
Now that you have learned what it means to be a CASA volunteer, it is important to carefully consider whether the position is the right fit for you. Monroe County CASA relies on community volunteers to help ensure that all children have a voice in court. Being a CASA volunteer not only requires specific qualifications, but distinct qualities such as compassion, respect, patience, and an open mind. If you believe that being a CASA volunteer is right for you, apply for our next training session now. This is the perfect opportunity to truly impact a child’s life and make a difference in our community!
Written by: Moira Gula