What is a CASA volunteer?
CASAs are Court Appointed Special Advocates. Once a CASA volunteer completes training, they are officially appointed by Marion County Juvenile Court, authorizing them to become involved in the child’s case and gain access to their records. As the Juvenile Court’s eyes and ears for children in foster care, these volunteer advocates speak up on their child’s behalf and help them through what is often a confusing and scary time. With just 6-8 hours a month, CASAs can make a difference in the life of a child.
Why do foster children need CASA volunteers?
The children we serve have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Many feel very much alone—until they meet their CASA. While the foster care system comprises many talented and passionate professionals, it is also overburdened. CASA volunteers devote their attention to one child or a sibling group, closely monitoring each child’s situation and ensuring their needs are met. A CASA volunteer can take on more than one case if they feel comfortable doing so. A CASA is often the only consistent adult presence in a foster child’s life—the one person a child can truly count on who is not paid to oversee their welfare.
What do CASAs do?
CASAs act as fact-finders for the judges, providing them with information that they may not get otherwise. CASAs gather information from Court documents, social workers’ files, educational, medical, and therapy records. They also speak with the child, family members, school officials, health care providers, and other professionals involved in the child’s life. CASAs use this information, as well as firsthand observations, to advocate for the child in Court and school, and in other aspects of their lives. The CASA’s role is to consider what is in the child’s best interest and to make sure that each child’s individual needs are met.
CASAs visit with their children at least once a month. This provides the children with stability and consistency and allows the CASAs to better understand the needs of the children. Some CASAs build and maintain positive, trusting relationships with their children, that transcend their case.
Who are CASAs?
We have hundreds of dedicated CASAs—men and women encompassing all age groups and backgrounds. They work full-time, part-time, are retired, and are students. Some CASA volunteers have only one child; others opt to advocate for more than one or a group of siblings. All CASAs make a volunteer commitment of at least 1 year. Because of the unique nature of this advocacy work and the personal connection to a foster child, many CASA volunteers find that their service is the experience of a lifetime.