A CASA Volunteer is a sworn officer of the court. A judge appoints a special advocate to help define the best interests of an abused or neglected child in juvenile court proceedings. A trained CASA Volunteer gathers information for the court. He or she recommends to the judge what is in the child’s best interest for a permanent, safe and loving home. A CASA Volunteer is a trusted, dependable adult who doesn’t go away and who gives the child hope for a better future.
The CASA volunteer is independent from the social services system and focuses solely on the child. The CWS caseworker serves the family—parents and child—by providing direct services. CWS caseworkers are not able to be a wholly independent voice because they are part of the agency that has already taken a position in the case by filing a petition and bringing the matter to court. A CASA volunteer is an independent voice, not part of an agency that may be constrained by rules and regulations, agency policies and fiscal limitations.
When the court makes decisions that affect a child’s future, the child needs a spokesperson—an objective adult to provide independent information about the best interests of the child. While other parties in the case are concerned about the child, they also have other interests to consider. The CASA volunteer is the only person in the case whose sole concern is the best interest of the child. CASA volunteers are usually assigned one case at a time, one CASA volunteer to each case, to provide a “voice in court.” A CASA volunteer gives individual attention to each case.
YES! Judges know their decisions are only as good as the information they receive. They count on CASA volunteers to spend more time on specific cases and to be an independent voice. CASA itself was developed from the idea of a juvenile court judge in 1977.
Studies have shown CASA volunteers to be effective in reducing court costs, reducing stays in foster care and even in reducing rates of delinquency and truancy. A study conducted by the National CASA Association showed that children with a CASA volunteer spent approximately one year less in care than a child without a CASA volunteer. This represents a savings to taxpayers and it also means that a child finds a permanent, safe home more quickly.
CASA programs are locally supported. The Judicial Council, fundraising events, annual giving and grants provide the ongoing support. National CASA has a grant system to help start up or expand programs. CASA programs depend on their communities to support the service.
CASA programs hire staff to manage the program and supervise volunteers. Program costs include: salaries, office support, computers and equipment, travel and training. CASA program staff recruit, train, supervise and support volunteers to ensure quality services. National CASA has program standards that all CASA programs are required to meet.
Please contact CASA of Mariposa by phone, in person, via email, via Facebook, or via this website! Complete the application process, participate in initial training and be sworn in by the Juvenile Court.