What is CASA?
CASA is the Court Appointed Special Advocate program. It is a non-profit organization that initiated in Will County in 1993. The program recruits, trains and supervises volunteers to represent the best interests of children in specific abuse and neglect cases in Will and Grundy Counties.
Who can be a CASA?
- Adult (at least age 25) who completes screening requirements.
- Must demonstrate general computer competency in Microsoft Word and e-mail.
- Must undergo a criminal history check, personal reference checks and a personal interview.
- Must complete 30 hours of pre-service training.
- Must have a sincere interest in the welfare of children, good verbal and written communication skills.
- Must have some flexibility with his or her schedule, and the time to serve as a child’s advocate.
How do I apply to become a CASA?
Individuals may apply to serve as advocates for the CASA/GAL program by submitting a written application provided by the office or completing an volunteer application. Requests for the names and addresses of three references will be required. Applicants are screened by CASA staff and selected individuals will be asked to schedule an interview.
What does CASA do?
- Serve as an Investigator by gathering facts, talking with people who have knowledge about the child’s case, review documents, and prepare written reports to the court outlining a summary of the findings and assessments and serve as the “eyes and ears” of the judge.
- Serve as a Facilitator, assisting the court and social service agencies in eliminating delays and advancing the child’s case in a timely fashion.
- Monitor compliance with court orders, provide follow-up on the case after a judge’s decision to see that court-ordered services are being provided to the child and family.
- Advocate for the child, being his or her “voice” in court.
How much time is involved?
A CASA’s volunteer time varies from case to case and from week to week. Generally, each CASA has responsibility for one child or one sibling group. No specific number of hours is requested; time is given at the volunteer’s convenience, except when a court hearing is scheduled. In general, a CASA can expect to spend approximately 5 hours a month working on a case. It should be noted that the majority of CASA’s have full or part-time jobs and are able to meet their advocacy responsibilities. Due to the sensitive nature of our work with children, we ask our volunteers to provide a 2 year commitment.
How does CASA benefit the children?
- A CASA volunteer has one case at a time and can offer concentrated attention to his or her particular child(ren).
- A CASA can often bring a “common sense” point of view to the juvenile courts system and can offer an independent perspective to the case.
- Studies have shown that when a CASA volunteer is assigned to a child’s case, that child is more likely to receive services than a child who does not have a volunteer.
- Children with a CASA tend to move through the system and into a permanent placement more quickly.
- CASA volunteers provide continuity for the child throughout the proceedings. The judge may change, caseworkers may change, but the CASA may be the only consistent person a child has throughout the court process.