40 years of helping children.
40 years of helping children.

Listed below are some frequently asked questions about CASA. Click on any question to read the answer.

1. What is a CASA volunteer?

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers are involved in the Family Court system because they have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.

2. What is the role of a CASA volunteer?

A CASA volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched background details about the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child’s future. Each home placement case is as unique as the child involved. The CASA volunteer must determine if the best interest of the child is staying with his or her parents or guardians, being placed in foster care, or being freed for permanent adoption. The CASA volunteer makes a recommendation on placement to the judge and follows through on the case until it is permanently resolved.

3. How do CASA volunteers investigate a case?

To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child: school, medical and caseworker reports and other documents.

4. How are CASA volunteers different from social service caseworkers?

Social workers generally are employed by state governments [such as the Department of Human Services, Children’s Protective Services, in Michigan], and work on many cases at a time; thus they are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each case. The CASA volunteer has a smaller caseload (1-2 cases), and more time to investigate to case. The CASA volunteer does not replace a social worker on a case; they are an independent appointee of the court. The CASA volunteer thoroughly examines a child’s case, knows about various community resources, and makes recommendations to the court independent of state agency limitations.

5. How are CASA volunteers different from attorneys?

The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom – that is the role of the attorney. However, the CASA volunteer does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases. It is important to remember that CASA volunteers do not represent a child’s wishes in court. Rather, they speak for the child’s best interests.

6. Is there a “typical” CASA volunteer?

CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and possess a variety of professional, educations and ethnic backgrounds. There are more than 70,000 CASA volunteers nationally. Local programs vary in number of volunteers they utilize. Aside from their CASA volunteer work, 64% of CASAs have jobs, and the majority of them are professionals, with 58% college graduates. Overall, 82% of CASA volunteers nationwide are women.

7. How do CASA volunteers advocate for children?

CASA volunteers offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They help explain to the child the events involving their case, the reasons they are in court and the role of the judge, lawyers and caseworkers, While remaining objective observers, CASA volunteers also encourage the child to express his or her own opinion and hopes about the case.

8. How many cases does a CASA volunteer have at a time?

Typically, CASA volunteers will carry only one case at a time. As that case nears completion or activity slows, a volunteer may receive a second case after careful consultation with his or her staff supervisor.

9. Do lawyers, judges and caseworkers support CASA?

Yes, Oakland County Family Court judges appoint CASA volunteers to cases. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the national Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice.

10. Does the federal government support CASA?

CASA is a priority project of the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The office encourages the establishment of new CASA programs, assists established CASA programs, and provides partial funding for the National CASA Association.

11. How many CASA programs are there?

There are over 950 CASA programs in the United States. They can be found in every state across the country, and in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

12. How effective are CASA programs?

Findings show that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to receive necessary services sooner, for a longer duration, and more consistently than those children without a CASA volunteer.

13. How much time is required to be a volunteer?

Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Once initiated into the system, CASA volunteers work about 5-10 hours a month for an average of 1-2 cases per year.

14. How long does a CASA Volunteer remain involved?

The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child. To ensure stability, the CASA program asks its volunteers for a commitment to see their case to completion.

15. Are there other agencies or groups providing a similar service?

No. There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child’s best interests.

16. What children are assigned CASA volunteers?

Every child with an assigned CASA volunteer is in the Family Court system and has been removed from his or her home due to abuse, neglect or dependency. Because CASA can only serve a portion of the Court’s current caseload, cases are assigned at the discretion of the presiding judge. CASAs are usually assigned to those cases which a judge feels are especially difficulty or need increased monitoring.

17. What does the National CASA Association provide?

The National CASA Association is a non-profit organization which represents and serves the local CASA programs. It provides training, technical assistance, research, media and public awareness services to its members.

18. How is CASA funded?

In Oakland County, CASA is a program of CARE House of Oakland County, and is funded by a combination of funding streams – mainly from grants and individual contributions. The National CASA Association is funded through a combination of private gifts, federal funds (U.S. Department of Justice), memberships and contributions.

19. How can I find a CASA program in my community?

CASA programs are known by a variety of names in different communities. If you live outside Oakland County and cannot find a program in your area, contact the National CASA Association for a referral.

20. How do I get more information about becoming a CASA volunteer or joining the National CASA Association?

To become a CASA volunteer with CARE House of Oakland County, click here to go to the How Do I Become an Advocate? section of our website. Outside of Oakland County, Michigan, please visit the National CASA website by clicking the link below:

National CASA Association
100 West Harrison Street
North Tower, Suite 500
Seattle, WA. 98119
Phone: (206) 270-0072 or (800) 628-3233
Fax: (206) 270-0078
Web: www.nationalcasa.org

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