Frequently Asked Questions [return]    

Why haven’t I ever heard of CASA?

If you haven’t heard of the CASA Program, it’s because judges, social workers, attorneys, and CASA advocates are required to maintain absolute confidentiality about the children they serve. In order to protect our children, therefore, the agency must work in relative anonymity.

How does CASA become involved in a case?

Only a Judge can assign a CASA advocate to a case. On occasion, the children’s or parent’s attorneys, the caseworkers’ attorney or the child’s foster parents, may request that a Judge assign a CASA volunteer.

To what types of cases are CASA assigned?

CASA advocates are assigned to children already in the foster care system.

How old are the children involved?

CASA advocates may be assigned to children ranging in age from newborn to age 18.

What are the responsibilities of a CASA?

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.

Is travel involved?

Locally, yes. CASA volunteers make visits with their appointed child and attend court hearings, as well as agency and school conferences.

Do CASA volunteers work by themselves?

Most of the time, CASA advocates work alone; however, staff is available to accompany volunteers to court or professional meetings when appropriate. In addition, advocates maintain active contact with Program and Peer Coordinators for support and supervision.

What educational or work experience is required?

No one specific type of background is required. All CASA advocates must have the time to devote to the case; the ability to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing; and must complete approximately 32 hours advocate training and courtroom observation.

How does a CASA differ from a caseworker?

The Department of Child Safety is the agency that provides protection to Arizona children in need. Caseworkers are employed 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 advocate 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.

How does the role of a CASA advocate differ from an attorney?

A CASA advocate 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 volunteer advocates for the best interests of the child. The CASA advocates provides crucial background information that assists judges in making the best decision for a permanent outcome.

How much time will I be expected to contribute each month?

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 volunteer has available. CASA advocates 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 than others.

How many children will I be providing advocacy services?

The strength of the CASA Program is the appointment of one volunteer to devote the time and attention to a case that each child deserves. Each CASA advocate works one case at a time: that may be one child, or several children in the same family. Occasionally, a CASA advocate may take on another family if the first situation is close to resolution.

How effective is CASA?

Judges have noted the value of the information that a CASA volunteer brings to the proceedings and are appreciative of the unique perspective presented by CASA advocates. In addition, national studies show that a child who has been assigned a CASA volunteer 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.

How are prospective CASA advocates screened?

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 CASA of Maricopa County is the right volunteer opportunity for them.

Do CASA advocates work addition to working on a case?

Most CASA advocates 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 will be gathering information from caseworkers, attorneys and other professionals who work business hours.

How long is my commitment to CASA?

Advocates with the CASA Program are asked to make a one-year commitment and may renew their commitments annually.

How do I become a volunteer?

Your first step is to submit an application. After submitting your application, our office 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 32 hours advocate training sessions are held monthly. More information will be provided at your interview.

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