Frequently Asked Questions

CASA Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions


What is a CASA volunteer?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained member of the community who is appointed by a judge of the Middlesex County Family Court to advocate for the best interests of a child who was removed from their home because of abuse or neglect. Potential CASA volunteers must be 21 years or older to apply.

What is the CASA volunteer’s role?
A CASA volunteer provides the court with a carefully researched background of the child to help it make a sound decision about that child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child involved. The CASA volunteer follow is expected to follow the case until it is permanently resolved.

What training does a CASA volunteer receive?
CASA volunteer advocates receive 30 hours of classroom instruction from program staff, and other professionals in our community. After the classroom instruction is complete the volunteer is sworn in by the family court Judge and then concludes the training with a 3-hour courtroom observation that is required before being assigned to a case. All CASA volunteers are required to fulfill 12 hours of in-service training per year.

How does a CASA volunteer investigate a case?
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the assigned 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.

How does a CASA volunteer differ from a social service caseworker?
Social workers generally are employed by state governments and sometimes work on as many as 40 cases at a time. Social workers are also responsible for the interests of the entire family. By contrast, the CASA volunteer normally has one case and concentrates on the best interests of the child. The CASA volunteer is an independent appointee of the court and does not replace the social worker.

How does the role of a CASA volunteer differ from an attorney?
The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom, which is the role of the attorney. A CASA volunteer does not represent the child’s wishes in court. Rather, the volunteer speaks to the best interests of the child.

Is there a “typical” CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. There are more than 75,000 CASA volunteers nationally. Aside from their CASA volunteer work, 52% are employed in regular full-time jobs, with the majority tending to be professionals. 82% of the volunteers nationwide are women; 18% are men.
 

How does the CASA volunteer relate to the child he or she represents?
CASA volunteers offer children advocacy and work to gain their trust. They visit each child on average, twice a month. In these visits they listen to the child’s opinion of where they would like to live permanently and what their hopes are for the future, while remaining objective observers. They may help encourage a child to cooperate with treatment, to expand their interests into positive activities, foster sibling visits, and be there to listen to a child that is often lonely.

Do lawyers, judges and caseworkers support CASA?
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.

Does the federal government support CASA?
CASA is a priority project of the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention program.

How many CASA programs are in the United States?
There are now nearly 1,000 programs in 49 states, Washington, DC, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

How effective is CASA?
Research shows that children who have been assigned a CASA volunteer tend to spend less time in court and less time within the foster care system than those who do not have a CASA volunteer. Judges have observed that with a CASA volunteer, children have a better chance of finding permanent homes than non-CASA children.

How much time does it require?
Each case is different in the number of hours per month. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 15 hours a month doing research and conducting interviews in the beginning of a case. After the initial period, volunteers spend anywhere from 3 to 10 hours a month, depending on the circumstances of each case.

How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved in a case?
Volunteers are asked to commit 18 months to the program. 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 and provides continuity for a child.

Are there any other agencies or groups that provide the same service?
There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by judges to represent the child’s best interests.

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

How is CASA funded?
National CASA is funded through a combination of private grants, federal funds, memberships and contributions. CASA of Middlesex County is a private not-for-profit agency that receives federal and state funding and support from private foundations, local fundraising activities, and generous donations from members of the community.

How can I contact CASA of Middlesex County?
CASA of Middlesex County would be pleased to meet you and tell you more about the program. Call (732) 246-4449 ex 2 OR ex 3. If you are from another county, staff at CASA of Middlesex can direct you to the program nearest you. The National CASA office can be contacted for help in finding a local program if you live in another state: www.casaforchildren.org

I'm ready to volunteer. What do I do now?
Download Volunteer Application

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