FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is casa?

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

For more than 35 years, the National CASA/GAL Association for Children has worked in service of the national network of CASA/GAL programs.

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What does a casa do?

CASAs advocate for abused, neglected, and/or abandoned children who are dependents of the court and in the child welfare system.

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how do i become a casa?

Volunteers complete an application process that includes a screening interview, background and reference checks, and 30 hours of pre-service training.

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WHAT IS CASA?

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

It is a national nonprofit program that recruits, trains, supervises, and supports community volunteers who advocate for abused, neglected, and/or abandoned children who are dependents of the court and in the child welfare system.

The National CASA/GAL Association, together with state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive.

WHAT IS A CASA VOLUNTEER?

CASA volunteers are ordinary people – men and women, students and executives, retirees, and busy professionals. CASA will provide all of the training you need to be a powerful voice for a child’s best interest.

A CASA volunteer is a trained community member who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of a child. The CASA volunteer spends time with the child on a weekly basis getting to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, caregivers, and others involved in the child’s life.

what’s the difference between a casa volunteer and a gal volunteer?

  • CASA = Court Appointed Special Advocate
  • GAL = guardian ad litem
  • The titles vary by location, but both are appointed by the court to advocate for the best interest of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

WHAT DOES A CASA DO?

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers advocate on behalf of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Their best-interest advocacy helps ensure that children are safe, have a permanent home and have the opportunity to thrive.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for children’s best interests. They stay with each case until it is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home. We serve children from birth through eighteen years old.

Volunteers work with legal and child welfare professionals, educators and service providers to ensure that judges have all the information they need to make the most well-informed decisions for each child. 

Our best-interest advocacy is driven by the guiding principle that children grow and develop best with their family of origin, if that can be safely achieved. Most of the children we work with are in foster care, but some are with their family of origin. And, most children who leave foster care do so to return to their family.

WHY DO CHILDREN NEED A CASA?

Most children who enter the child welfare system do so because of abuse or neglect by their primary caregiver. This situation frequently leaves children without a strong adult in their lives to ensure they are safe and that their medical, educational, developmental, and personal needs are met.

Social Service caseworkers and attorneys often have caseloads of over 30 children, which can hamper caseworker’s ability to give individualized attention and support to the children they represent.

CASA volunteers are generally assigned to one child for the duration of their case. This is why the committed service of a trained CASA volunteer makes a real difference to a judge who can depend on a CASA for a well-researched recommendation on the child’s needs and to the child who has a consistent adult to count on during such a difficult time in their lives.

How are CASA volunteers different than social workers, attorneys and others working with children in court?

  • CASA volunteers are assigned to only one or two children or sibling groups at a time.
  • Our volunteers stay involved on the case from the time of appointment until the child achieves permanency.
  • Because of the small number of children a volunteer serves, they have more time to commit to each child.
  • CASA/GAL volunteers are specially trained to consider issues relevant to the best interests of the child, which may be different than the interests of other parties or the child’s wishes. Traditional attorneys who represent children are required to advocate for their client’s—the child’s—wishes.

how do I become a casa?

Volunteers complete an application process that includes a screening interview, background and reference checks, and 30 hours of pre-service training.

After completion of the pre-service training, volunteers are sworn-in as officers of the court. This gives them the legal authority to conduct research on the child’s situation and submit reports to the court.

How much time is required to volunteer?

Each case and child is different. A CASA volunteer is required to visit their case child on a weekly basis for a minimum of one hour. Volunteers donate an average of 8-10 hours a month spending time with the child and gathering information. Volunteers are asked to commit until the case has been closed—a minimum of one year. The CASA volunteer is often the only consistent adult in the child’s life who stays involved in the case from beginning to end, providing stability and continuity that is desperately needed.

what qualifications are needed to volunteer?

No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. We encourage people from all cultures and professions, and of all ethnic and educational backgrounds. Once accepted into the program, you will receive all necessary training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system, and the special needs of abused and neglected children.

Requirements include:

  • You must be 21 years old Complete necessary background checks
  • Provide references and participate in an interview
  • Complete a minimum of 30 hours of pre-service training

When you become a CASA volunteer you agree:

  • To see the child weekly
  • Have regular communication with CASA staff and follow through on the case
  • Maintain a very high level of confidentiality regarding the case to which you are assigned
  • Provide information to the court by submitting a court report
  • Submit a monthly report/hours volunteered

Who are volunteers, and how are they prepared?

  • CASA/GAL volunteers are regular people, from all walks of life, who have been rigorously screened and trained extensively by their local program.
  • Each volunteer receives more than 30 hours of training before they work with a child, with an additional 12 hours of continued education required annually.
  • Volunteers receive ongoing support to help them advocate effectively on a child’s behalf.
  • Each year, CASA/GAL programs train more than 24,000 new community advocates.

ready to volunteer?

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Didn’t receive an email or application? You can download the PDF here.