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 include those for whom home placement is being determined in juvenile court. Most of the children are victims of abuse and neglect.
2. How are CASA volunteers different from the Department of Children and Family Services caseworkers in our parishes?
Social workers generally are employed by state governments and sometimes are working on as many as 30 to 40 cases at a time; they are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each case. The CASA volunteer has more time and a smaller caseload (average of 1-2 cases) to investigate a case. The CASA volunteer does not replace a social worker on a case; a CASA is 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 restrictions.
3. 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 happening involving the case, reasons they are in court and the roles 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 (if they are of age and maturity to do so).
4. What children are assigned CASA volunteers?
Children who are victims of abuse and neglect and become wards of the court are assigned CASA volunteers. The program is most common in juvenile court cases.
5. Am I allowed to go to a child’s birthday party and or school programs if asked?
Yes you may. You are only required to meet with your CASA child once monthly for an hour, however if you have the time you may participate in these activities. We encourage this as it helps to build trust with your CASA child.
6. Are CASA advocates paid?
CASA advocates are not paid a salary. This is a volunteer position/role. An advocate can receive mileage reimbursement if they have to travel outside of their parish to visit their CASA child.
7. What are the first steps to becoming a CASA advocate?
The first step is to fill out an application in person or on our website. After we receive your application, we will schedule your pre-screening interview. We also run state, local, and DCFS background checks. Once your interview and background checks are completed, we will schedule you to start our next training class.
8. How many children will I be advocating for?
CASA AP standards state that one advocate can be assigned to a maximum of two children.
9. How much time would be required of me each month as a CASA advocate?
CASA of Central Louisiana requires that you meet with your CASA child/children for one hour each month. We also ask that you attend any hearing or meeting for your CASA child (generally every 6 months) so that you may advocate for their best interest.