A Volunteer’s Role

As a CASA volunteer you will learn how to gather information, report to the court, monitor case progress, encourage positive communications and advocate for the best interests of the child. You become the voice of the child in the court system.

CASA volunteers are not mentors or sponsors. CASA volunteers are advocates for children during the life of the case and assist them in getting needed services and in getting placed in a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible.

More specifically, once assigned to a case, you:

  • Gather information about the case by examining the records of the court and other information from social workers at the Department of Child Services (“DCS”), doctors, and/or persons providing services to the parents and children in the case.
  • Interview the child, family members and foster parents to understand their perspectives.
  • Get to know the child (ren), understand their needs and gain their trust.
  • Explain the situation to the child and answer questions about the case. Help the child to understand the court process, which can be confusing and frightening.
  • Help the child express their desire as to the outcome of the case, and form an objective opinion as to what is best for the child.
  • Appear at hearings and meetings pertaining to the child’s case in order to monitor the course of the case as well as to make recommendations on the child’s behalf, and ensure that the child‘s voice is heard even if they are not able to be present.
  • Follow up to ensure that the parents and children participate in and complete all services ordered by the court

I’m ready to become a volunteer  – click here to request more information about volunteering and to be connected to a program in your community.

How do I become a volunteer?

There are several steps in becoming a CASA volunteer. You will go through a screening process including a criminal background check and completing an application. Next, a staff member from the local program will interview you, and explain the training process and the role of a child advocate. If you successfully complete the screening process, the local program will then arrange for you to complete the thorough 30-hour training program, which usually takes place over a period of several weeks.

What is the training like?

During the training, you will learn important information about advocating for children, such as:

  • The role of the advocate, child development and social issues affecting families, and a broad overview of Indiana law and the court process relating to child abuse and neglect cases.
  • How to interview the child, family and other involved professionals to make certain all the facts are uncovered.
  • Courtroom procedures – what the judge expects from you, what to expect if you are asked to testify, and how to write court reports.
  • How to monitor the progress of the case and advocate for the child’s best interest so they can return home safely or be placed in another safe and permanent home as quickly as possible.

Commitment

When you become a volunteer for a Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA) you are asked to make a commitment to at least one child or sibling group for the duration of the court case, which usually lasts a year, but could go on longer if the children cannot be reunified with their parents. You will dedicate about 10-15 hours a month which will be spent visiting your assigned child, gathering information and preparing a summary for the court.

It’s not always easy to be a CASA volunteer. It can be time consuming, frustrating and at times, heartbreaking. But, at other times, it is incredibly rewarding. It is rewarding when you realize that without you, the judge wouldn’t have known a key piece of information that impacted his/her decision; or the child wouldn’t have received desperately needed therapy or services without your input; or that a parent wouldn’t have received needed resources that helped them create a safe and stable home for the child. Moments like these make it all worthwhile.

When a child has an advocate, he or she is more likely to get needed services — and a permanent, stable home. Are you eager to make a difference in a child’s life? Please become a volunteer. There is a child waiting for you now!

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