Learn More (FAQ) | CASA

Learn More (FAQ)

January 28th, 2014 | casaadmin

Q. What are the basic requirements for becoming a CASA volunteer?

A. All CASAs must complete the required orientation and training program,criminal/background check and meet with
our Executive Director for approval in order to accept a case.
CASA volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, and be able to relate to people of different cultural backgrounds. Volunteers must also have a valid California driver’s license (for three consecutive years), and all vehicles that might be used to transport youth must be insured. It is desirable that the volunteers have effective oral and written communication skills, and it is required that they maintain objectivity and keep the confidentiality of the children, their families, and court records. They must adhere to the mission, rules and guidelines of the Juvenile court and Sonoma County CASA program, and comply with required paperwork in a timely manner.

Q. How often should I be seeing my child?

A. It will depend on the child and his or her circumstances, the distance of the placement, the age of the child, etc.. Typically you will meet with your child once a week or every other week. During the off weeks, phone calls to check in with your child may be made. The average volunteer puts in about 10-12 hours per month of service. The important thing is to spend consistent and meaningful time with the child.

Q. How many volunteer hours a month does it take to be a CASA?
A. It varies from person to person, case to case. But on average, the minimum time spent is 10-12 hours per month. The volunteer is the pace setter for interactions and the type of activities you engage in. Working with the foster parents, social worker and the CASA Volunteer Supervisor is advised at all times. Some visitation may need prior approval.

Q. How long do I commit to this program for?

A. The minimum commitment is two years. However we want you to be there for this child and case duration will vary. Usually this is discussed at placement

Q. Once I’ve taken a case, where do I begin?

A. After all paperwork has been completed, and you have been cleared, you will be notified and an appointment set up. You will meet with a placement worker that will work with you to match you with a youth who you feel comfortable with. You will then review the CASA office file thoroughly. The first person you call is the child’s Social Worker to discuss current case circumstances and location of the youth’s shelter. At this meeting with the social worker you will discuss your child, copy paperwork, etc.. From here on out each case is different. You will want to arrange your first meeting with your child. Then you will want to meet with the child’s attorney, others such as the County Office of Education, then the child’s school teacher, therapist (if applicable), and other authority figures in this child’s life, in order to gain as much information about this child as possible. Be sure to carry extra copies of your court order with you at all times.

Q. My social worker does not return my phone calls, what should I do?

A. Social workers are very busy and we can not stress enough tolerance and understanding. However a call to a CASA “Volunteer Supervisor” should be made it you find yourself not getting calls returned in a timely fashion. You should not expect a social worker to be at their desk all the time. In fact most workers are in the field 60 -75% of the time. It is important that when you do call, that you leave a clear and concise message in addition to your name and number for contact (usually your cell number). Be sure to advise when is the best time the social worker can reach you, or offer to call back at a certain time if that is more convenient for them. Often a social worker may already be working on your particular concern, but just may not have had the time to return your call. The most successful CASA volunteers have professional relationships and consistent interactions with their social workers. Do not fall into the routine of only calling your worker when you have a problem. We all like to hear the good stuff you’re doing and seeing on your case.

Q. Why do I sometimes get several calls from the CASA staff regarding my child?

A. The CASA staff try very hard to keep you informed about any changes or paperwork we receive from the courts, group homes, social workers, etc..relating to your case. The paperwork does not always come in at the same time or even in the same envelope. Because of the volume of correspondence we receive it is necessary to delegate and share, which may mean that two different people will end up with information regarding the same child. So, on occasion a CASA may receive more than one phone call from the CASA office on a given day. It is important to make sure all information is coming your way. We would not want you to miss anything.

Q. Where do I go to get my fingerprints scanned?

A. You will make your appointment with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. Your training coordinator will give you the direct contact phone number. Please advise your training coordinator when you’ve secured your appointment, and please be sure not to miss it. The Sheriff’s Department is located at 2796 Ventura Avenue in Santa Rosa.

Q. Where is the Juvenile Dependency Court Room located (to observe court sessions during my training, or to appear for my child’s case)?

A. Appearing in court to observe is one of the best pieces of advise you can obtain to prepare yourself for your first court appearance. Please call for an appointment to appear in court, dress appropriately and let the office know when you have completed this part of your training by adding your visit to your monthly volunteer log.

Sonoma County Hall of Justice
600 Administration Drive Room 249J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Courtroom 5
(707) 565-3072