CASA Advocates: Working to Give Children a Voice in Court
A CASA advocate is a Court Appointed Special Advocate who receives training and volunteers their time to investigate and report on the best interests of a child. In tough custody cases, parents are often unable to focus on the needs of their children. Many of these children are so young they cannot speak for themselves. CASAs give these children a voice in court by focusing on the needs of the child and striving to strengthen parenting skills and family relationships.
After 21 hours of training and an orientation meeting with an Advocate Supervisor, new advocates spend an average of 60 hours over 6-9 months conducting an investigation and writing report(s).
While each case is unique, a CASA generally completes the following tasks:
- Interviews each of the parents in person, meets with the child, and observes the child with each parent in the parent’s homes
- Inquires about the family by calling collateral references such as day care workers, babysitters, and other family members or friends
- Gathers significant records such as school attendance and report cards
- Reviews background checks, CPS reports, chemical dependency reports and medical or psychological reports
Once the investigation is complete, the CASA advocate writes a report describing the following:
- Background of the child and family
- Issues assigned to CASA by the court
- Description of each person’s interview
- Description of key records gathered
- Conclusions and recommendations regarding the best interests of the child
Throughout the investigation, Family Law CASA staff members guide and support CASA volunteers:
- Advocate Supervisors oversee and support volunteers throughout the investigation, interviewing and assessment process and review volunteer reports.
- The program attorney coordinates hearings, trials and settlement conferences and provides CASAs with legal representation during hearings and trials and at mediation.
- A staff administrator helps manage case paperwork, process releases of information, and forwards mail and messages from families to volunteers.
If you are interested in volunteering as a CASA advocate, complete the CASA Application Form.