If you haven’t heard of the CASA Program, it’s because judges, social workers, attorneys,
and CASAs are required to maintain absolute confidentiality about the children they
serve. In order to protect our children, therefore, the agency must work in relative
Only a Judge can assign a CASA to a case. On occasion, the children’s or parent’s
attorneys, the caseworkers’ attorney or the child’s foster parents, may request
that the Judge assign a CASA.
CASAs are assigned to children already in the foster care system or to those at
risk of entering foster care as a result of abuse, neglect and/or the parent's/guardian's
inability to care for the child.
CASAs may be assigned to children ranging in age from newborn up to age 18.
The role of a Court Appointed Special Advocate is different than a mentor or friend.
Advocates make thorough inquires into dependency matters by speaking with all parties
involved in the case and submitting formal written reports to the Court. The goal
of a CASA is to move children efficiently through the child welfare system into
safe, permanent homes where they can grow to be successful adults.
Locally, yes. CASA volunteers make visits with their appointed child and attend
court hearings, as well as agency and school conferences.
Most of the time, CASAs work alone; however, staff is available to accompany Advocates
to court or professional meetings when appropriate. In addition, CASAs maintain
active contact with Advocate Coordinators for support and supervision.
No one specific type of background is required. All CASAs must have the time to
devote to the case; the ability to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing;
and must complete approximately 30 hours of classroom training and courtroom observation.
Child Protective Services is the agency that provides protection to Arizona children
in need. Caseworkers are employed by the Department of Economic Security to provide
services to strengthen family life and to enable children to remain safe in their
own homes, or to reunite them with their parents if they are already in foster care.
A CASA does not replace a caseworker on the case, but is an independent appointee
of the court who monitors both the actions of the family and the case plan activity,
with only the best interests of the child in mind.
A CASA does not provide legal representation. That is the role of an attorney: in
Arizona, children involved in dependency proceedings are appointed their own attorney,
who provides legal representation (GAL). Instead, the CASA advocates for the best
interests of the child. The CASA provides crucial background information that assists
judges in making the best decision for a permanent outcome.
Each volunteer and each case is different. The amount of time devoted to a case
depends on the specific family and the amount of time the Advocate has available.
CASAs devote an average of fifteen hours per month. As cases unfold, the demands
of research, interviews and report writing will vary. Some weeks will be busier
The strength of the CASA Program is the appointment of one Advocate to devote the
time and attention to a case that each child deserves. Each CASA works one case
at a time: that may be one child, or several children in the same family. Occasionally,
a CASA may take on another family if the first situation is close to resolution.
Judges have noted the value of the information that a CASA brings to the proceedings
and are appreciative of the unique perspective presented by CASAs. In addition,
national studies show that a child who has been assigned a CASA is more likely to
secure needed services in a timely manner; is moved from placement to placement
less frequently; is more likely to have his/her case reviewed regularly by the court;
and has a better chance of living in a safe, permanent home than those who do not
have CASA representation.
To be accepted into a training session, prospective Advocates must complete the
application form (providing three non-relative character references), give permission
for a background check, take a polygraph examination and participate in an initial
interview. Following classroom training, the prospective volunteer may participate
in a final interview to determine if Maricopa County CASA is the right volunteer
opportunity for them.
Most CASAs work full or part-time, some are retired, and some do not work outside
the home. Daytime availability and flexibility are essential. Some of the advocate
work a CASA does will be gathering information from caseworkers, attorneys and other
professionals who work business hours. Therefore, it is important to be able to
reach them in their offices.
Advocates with the CASA Program are asked to make a one-year commitment and may
renew their commitments annually. The average Advocate volunteers with Maricopa
County CASA for three years, and many have been with us for ten years or more.
First step is to submit an application. After submitting
your application, a CASA Coordinator will contact you to schedule an interview.
Background checks will be conducted, and, if accepted into the program, you will
be notified of the next available training schedule. The thirty-hour Advocate training
sessions are held monthly. Please check our Training Calendar for information.