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What is a CASA Volunteer?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
volunteer is a specially-trained citizen
appointed by the judge to represent a child
victim in cases of abuse and neglect.
What Does a CASA Volunteer Do?
Advocating for the best interest of a child, a
trained CASA provides a judge with carefully
researched details about the child to help the
court make a sound decision about that child's
future. He or she recommends to the Judge what
the child needs to be safe and what is in the
best interest for a permanent home. The CASA
makes recommendations to the judge in the form
of a report, attends the child’s hearings and
follows through on the case until it is
What Training Does a CASA Volunteer
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 CASA
volunteers can take a case. Thereafter,
volunteers are required to fulfill 12 hours of
in-service training per year.
What is the CASA Philosophy?
The CASA concept is based on the commitment that
every child has the right to a safe, permanent
home. The juvenile court judge appoints a
volunteer to the child’s case. The volunteer
then becomes an official part of the judicial
proceedings, working alongside attorneys and
social workers as an appointed officer of the
court. Unlike attorneys and social workers,
however, the CASA volunteer speaks exclusively
for the child’s best interests. By handling only
one or two cases at a time the CASA volunteer
has time to thoroughly explore the history of
each assigned case. CASA is the only program
where volunteers are appointed by the court to
represent a child’s best interests.
How Does a CASA Volunteer Investigate a
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer
talks with the child, parents, family members,
case managers, 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, case manager reports, and
other pertinent documents.
How Does a CASA Volunteer Differ from a
Social Service Case Worker?
Case workers generally are employed by state
governments. They sometimes work on over 20
cases at a time while CASA volunteers are able
to provide their full attention to just one
family at a time. No state agency could ever
afford to provide the kind of one-on-one
assistance that CASA makes available to children
and families. The CASA volunteer does not
replace the case worker; he or she is an
independent appointee of the court. The CASA
volunteer can thoroughly examine a child's case,
has knowledge of community resources, and can
make a recommendation to the court independent
of state agency restrictions.
How Long Does a CASA Volunteer Remain
Involved with a Case?
Our CASA program requires a minimum one-year
commitment with the ultimate goal of the
volunteer continuing until the case is
permanently resolved and permanency has been
achieved. That is because 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.
Is There a "Typical” CASA Advocate?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life with
a variety of professional, educational and
ethnic backgrounds. In FY09, there were more
than 1,237 CASA volunteers assigned to cases
How Much Time Does It Require?
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually
spends about 15 hours a month doing research and
conducting interviews prior to the first court
appearance. More complicated cases take longer.
Once initiated into the system, volunteer
advocates work anywhere from 4-20 hours per
month depending on the complexity of the case to
which they are assigned.
How Are CASA Programs Funded?
CASA programs depend on their communities to
support the service. Foundations, corporations,
fundraising events, annual giving and grants are
just some examples of the ongoing support
received by local CASA programs.
How Effective Have CASA Programs Been?
Research suggests that children who have been
assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time
within the foster care system than those who do
not have a CASA volunteer. Judges have also
observed that children assigned to a CASA also
have better chances of finding permanent homes
than children not assigned to a CASA.
How many CASA programs are there in the
State of NJ?
There are 16 independent CASA programs serving
each of the NJ court vicinages.
How can I Donate to CASA?
There are many ways you can donate
How can I get more information about CASA of
Ocean County, Inc.?
We would be happy to talk with you or forward
any information you may need. Please contact us
here. Feel free to call (732)-270-6803 to speak
with Vicki Ackley our Executive Director.
What Are Some of the Things a CASA Might Do:
· Locate relatives who may be interested in
· Locate and facilitate camp placements
· Attend Court & CPR hearings
· Assist caseworker with preparation of searches
· Attend Case Planning, ISP, IEP and Annual
· Act as a sounding board for birth and foster
· Visit foster homes, birth parents, etc. on a
regular basis and share impressions with
· Support foster parents with information and
resources for special needs children
· Pick up reports from schools, therapists, etc.
and deliver to DYFS
· Assist in finding and arranging means of
transportation to therapy and visitation (CASA’s
can’t provide transportation)
· Make referrals to community resources such as
Salvation Army, Jewish Family Services, Big
· Assist with obtaining equipment and/or
facilities for children’s extracurricular