A CASA volunteer’s role is to carefully research the background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future.
CASA of Grant County, Inc. (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a non-profit organization that recruits, trains, supervises, and supports volunteer advocates as officers of the court. These dedicated volunteers are qualified community members with 32 hours of specialized training. Appointed by a judge, these advocates represent children in Child in Need of Services (CHINS) cases which involve abuse and/or neglect. Volunteers report and represent the child’s best interest and wishes to assist in the plan for long term safety, stability, and permanency.
The role of a CASA is to provide the judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future. This process involves the completion of an objective examination of a case. Advocates collect relevant information involving history, environmental factors, relationships, and needs of the child. After ongoing investigations, the CASA prepares written reports to the court and also testifies at hearings on the child’s behalf. Each home placement case is as unique as the child involved. Over time, the volunteer must determine if it is the child’s best interest to remain with parents/guardians, placed in foster care, or freed for permanent adoption.
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health care providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all pertinent records—school, medical, caseworker reports and any other document pertaining to the child’s life.
CASA volunteers are ordinary citizens with extraordinary hearts for helping children. No special legal background or education is necessary. Advocates must be at least 21 years of age and have obtained a high school diploma or G.E.D. CASA volunteers are screened closely for objectivity, competence, and commitment. They must also be willing to authorize a release for criminal background and child protective services record checks. In addition, 30 hours of formal classroom training plus 2 hours of court observation must be satisfactorily completed. Once the previous steps completed, advocates are sworn in by the judge prior to their first assigned case.
For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer,
address: 303 S. Norton Ave., Marion, IN 46952
National CASA website: www.nationalcasagal.org