Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers are community volunteers who are appointed by judges to advocate in court for abused and/or neglected children. When a child is in danger living at home, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) will step in and say that the child needs to be moved to a safe environment. In order to determine what circumstances will keep the child safe, the case is brought to court where a judge will rule where the child should go.
Once a case is brought to court, the judge appoints a CASA volunteer to the child. The CASA volunteer researches the child’s situation – this includes talking to the child as well as the child’s parents, teachers, counselors… anyone who plays a significant role in the child’s life – and then forms an educated recommendation as to what is in that child’s best interests to maintain well-being and encourage safe permanency. Once the CASA volunteer determines the child’s best interests, they write a report to the judge recommending a home placement (returning to their previous homes, foster care, staying with relatives…) and services to address any unique, unmet needs that the child has.
CASA volunteers spend an average of ten hours a month working on a case, though typically they spend more time at the beginning of a case than they do towards the end. Cases generally last at least a year, and we ask that each volunteer commits to remaining a volunteer as long as their case is open. Children face a constant rotation of judges, social workers, and foster homes, but all the while their CASA volunteer remains a stable and constant adult in their lives.
No previous experience is necessary to become a CASA – when you become a volunteer, we’ll provide you with extensive training, constant backup support, and the power to positively influence life-changing court decisions.