How is a Child Chosen to Have a CASA Volunteer?
The judge has sole discretion on appointing a CASA volunteer to work on an individual child's behalf. The judge rules it, the paperwork comes into the CASA office and a volunteer is assigned to the case.
What is the CASA Volunteer's Role?
A CASA volunteer provides a judge with a carefully researched background of 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 it is in the child's best interest to stay with his or her parent or guardian, be placed in foster care, or be 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.
How does a CASA Volunteer 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 (i.e. school, medical, and case worker reports, and other documents).
How does a CASA Volunteer differ from a social service caseworker?
State governments generally employ social workers. They sometimes work on as many as 30 to 40 cases at a time and are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each. The CASA worker is a volunteer typically working on only one case at a time (although that one case may involve 2 or more children). The CASA volunteer does not replace a social worker on a case, he or she is an independent court appointee, representing the child's best interest. The CASA volunteer can thoroughly examine a recommendation to the court independent of state agency restrictions.
How does the role of a CASA volunteer differ from an attorney?
The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom. This is the role of the attorney. CASA is not a legal representative, but CASAs always advocate for the child's best interest. Attorneys are paid; CASA volunteers are not paid.
How does the role of a CASA volunteer differ from a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?
Also appointed by the Court, Guardian Ad Litem (GALs) are lawyers and can present legal information to the court. CASA volunteers are not legal representatives.
What is required to be a CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. Nationally there are over 47,000 volunteers. No special or legal background is required. However, volunteers are screened closely for objectivity, competence, commitment and background check. Locally, 50% of our active CASA volunteers also work in part or full-time employment; approximately 90% are women and 10% are men.
What training does a CASA volunteer receive?
CASA volunteers undergo a thorough training course conducted by the staff of CASA of Davidson County. This training includes instruction on the court and child welfare systems; child abuse and neglect; relevant state and federal laws; permanency planning; family preservation; and the roles and responsibilities of a CASA volunteer. The classroom instruction averages 35 hours, excluding an additional 5 hours of court time observation.
How does the CASA volunteer relate to the child he or she represents?
CASA volunteers offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They explain to the child the events that are happening, the reasons they all are in court, and the roles the judge, lawyers and social workers play. CASA volunteers also encourage the child to express his or her own opinion and hopes. Always, the CASA advocates for the best interest of the child.
How many cases on the average does a CASA volunteer carry at one time?
Typically, the Davidson County CASA Program assigns only one case per volunteer.
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.
How effective have CASA programs been?
National statistics indicate that when a child comes into state custody, he or she remains there for 24 to 27 months. When CASA is involved, the length of time a child remains in state custody is reduced by an average of 10 months. Judges have observed that CASA children also have better chances of finding permanent homes than non-CASA children.
How much time does it require?
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 15 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work between 10-20 hours a month.
How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved with a case?
The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits to 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.
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, news and public awareness service to members, as well as providing competitive grant funding to individual programs.
What is the role of Tennessee CASA Association?
The Tennessee CASA Association is a non-profit membership organization which supports the development, growth and continuation of programs which recruit and train volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates representing the best interest of children in court proceedings. Currently there are 16 established CASA programs in Tennessee.
How is CASA funded?
The CASA program in Davidson County was initiated with seed money from the local chapters of the National Council of Jewish Women and the Junior League of Nashville. These organizations provided the initial funding, and their members formed the first steering committee. Funding on an annual basis comes from Kappa Alpha Theta and the Tennessee Committee on Children and Youth. Other active supporters include the Memorial Foundation, the Nashville Bar-Young Lawyers Association, the Hospital Corporation of America, and the Frist Foundation (through a technology grant). CASA also receives contributions from congregations, individuals and other community organizations and foundations.
How Can I Donate to CASA?
You can send contributions to the address below or you can click here.
How Do I Get More Information about CASA of Davidson County?
You can write to us at:
Court Appointed Special Advocate
601 Woodland Street
Nashville, TN 37206
e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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