What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)? | CASA

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Position Title: Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) 

Reports to: CASA Volunteer Supervisor (Case Supervisor)

Responsible to: CASA of Sonoma County Executive Director and Sonoma County Juvenile Court Judge

General Requirements: Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age. Each CASA must demonstrate the desire and willingness and ability to help and mentor a child, make at least two years commitment, attend CASA training sessions, successfully complete a CASA background screening, receive CASA program staff supervision, work effectively alongside other foster care system professionals, and report to the Court.

Roles and Responsibilities (according to California Rule of Court 5.655)

  1. Establish a relationship with a child in foster care to better understand the child’s needs and desires:
    1. Develop a relationship with the court dependent child by meeting with him/her on a weekly basis.
    2. Provide a positive role model for the child while teaching him/her self-confidence, trust, and other developmental behaviors.
  2. Support the child throughout court proceedings:
    1. Learn about the foster care and dependency court systems;
    2. Explain the court proceedings to the child;
    3. Attend each hearing with or without the child;
    4. Help “interpret” what is going on in court while at court with the child, or following court.
  3. Explain the CASA volunteer’s role, duties and responsibilities to all parties associated with the case.
  4. Review available records regarding the child’s family history, school behavior, medical or mental health history, etc.
  5. Identify and explore potential resources that will facilitate family preservation, early family reunification, or alternative permanency planning.
  6. Interview all parties involved with the child regarding the child’s circumstances and needs, as determined by the CASA plan developed with the CASA Advocate Supervisor.
  7. Communicate the child’s needs to the court in written reports and recommendation.
  8. Ensure that the court-approved plans for the child are being implemented.
  9. Familiarize yourself with the case plan.
  10. Maintain regular contact with the social worker.
  11. Investigate the interest of the child in judicial or administrative proceedings outside of juvenile court.
  12. Communicate and coordinate efforts with the child’s social worker, probation officer, and attorney.
  13. Other duties and responsibilities as determined by the presiding juvenile court judge or a designee.

Additional Requirements:

  1. Attend 30 hours of CASA class training and 10 hours of field visits and observations.
  2. Submit monthly volunteer activity logs to the CASA office.
  3. Submit draft of court report at least one month before court hearing date.
  4. Maintain regular contact with your CASA Advocate Supervisor.
  5. Attend a mandatory 60-day case review meeting.
  6. Acquire 12 hours per year of in-service training.
  7. Stay with the child until the case has been closed by the court or CASA has been dismissed.
  8. Notify the office immediately if no longer able to serve as a CASA volunteer.
  9. Maintain confidentiality regarding the CASA child and his/her case.

Advocates are prohibited from:

  1. Talking about a CASA child, their family, or any court proceedings with persons not involved with the case, such as family members, friends, co-workers, etc;
  2. Taking a child to the CASA volunteer’s home;
  3. Introducing their CASA child to their families and other persons in their personal life;
  4. Working with a child with who they are either related or have a prior relationship with;
  5. Giving legal advice or therapeutic counseling;
  6. Giving money or expensive gifts to the child or family;
  7. Making any placement arrangements on the child’s behalf;
  8. Being employed in a position and /or with another agency/organization that might result in a conflict of interest; and
  9. Any other activities prohibited by the local juvenile court and foster care system.