Frequently Asked Questions
- Who are CASA advocates?
Advocates are caring individuals from all walks of life, with a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds with a shared commitment to helping children from our community.
- What is the role of a CASA, and why are they important?
The purpose of providing a foster child with a volunteer advocate is to ensure the child’s safety, well-being, and basic needs are provided for while under the jurisdiction of the courts. Whereas social workers, therapists, teachers and even caregivers may change, most often, the advocate is the sole, consistent adult present in the child’s life during the 6 to 18 months that child is in foster care.
Advocates develop a trusting, supportive relationship with the child which enables to advocate to better understand the child’s history, strengths, challenges, and needs, which leads to better facilitation of services in a timely manner. In fact, according to the California CASA Association, cases to which advocates were assigned, both parents and children were significantly more likely to receive healthcare, legal, substance abuse, mental health, and family support services.
Additional responsibilities include monitoring the child’s educational and case progress, compliance with court orders, reporting findings, making recommendations to the court, and speaking up for the child during court proceedings.
- Are they any requirements to become an advocate?
While there is no special educational or background requirements, volunteers are selected on the basis of their objectivity, competence, and commitment. Volunteers must also be at least 21 years old, and pass comprehensive background and reference checks. Flexibility and open-mindedness are also important.
- How long is the volunteer commitment?
Volunteers are asked to commit to the program for a minimum of 18 months; this is the average length of a case. Volunteers can expect to spend approximately 10 – 15 hours per month on their case.
- What about the emotional aspect of working with children in foster care?
We understand child abuse and neglect are certainly difficult subjects, however, you will not be alone in you volunteer work. The CASA programs provides advocates with the tools, training, and support needed to advocate for a foster child in need.
- How will I be supported as a volunteer?
CASA maintains an open-door policy; advocates may contact their supervisor during normal business hours and may contact the Executive Director after hours in the event of an emergency. The Advocate Supervisor and/or Executive Director attend all court hearings with advocates, and the organization also provides continuing education opportunities such as live classes and peer sessions, as well as maintaining a substantial resource page, and sending monthly email updates regarding upcoming meetings, gatherings, and community events.
- What do advocates and their CASA child do together?
A number of things! Often, advocates for younger children will take them to visit a park or the library. Advocates for teens or older youth may visit a local coffee shop or play a game of catch; activities depends on your shared interests. Additionally, we have an Advocate Resources page where advocates can view continuing education opportunities, free and low-cost activities in our area, and additional community resources.
Please note, that as an advocate, you may not take your CASA child to your home or introduce them to your friends or family. Much of the purpose of being a CASA is to step into a child’s world to provide support and guidance. We recognize this volunteer work is much more involved and can be emotional; CASA hosts peer sessions to serve as an outlet for advocates gather to share their experiences with one another in a confidential and supportive environment.
- Will I be able to choose my CASA child?
In order to ensure a good match, your supervisor will not pair you up with the next available child or the child most in-need. At the completion of training, you will provide a list of your interests and hobbies. Your supervisor will then provide you with two or three case files to read based upon your preferences. Ultimately, you will be able to decide which case you will be assigned to.
- I am interested in learning more about CASA, what are my next steps?
Click here to learn more about the process of becoming a CASA