CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act.
Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child's life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.
What does a volunteer do?
Indiana legislation mandated that every abused and/or neglected child brought into the Juvenile Court system be represented by a CASA volunteer or a Guardian ad Litem. This mandate is a clear recognition of the value that the state government places in our organization. The child's advocate works to ensure progress toward a permanent, secure living environment for the child in the shortest amount of time possible. Too many times, the child lingers in the overcrowded foster/institutional care system. The "system" is not equipped to parent children.
Department of Child Services, by law, must offer services to the family in effort to reunite them. In some cases, that is in the best interest of the child; however, it is not always so. This reunification becomes the focus of the child protection's involvement. The CASA advocate concentrates on keeping the best interest of the child before the court.
Review hearings are held at least every 6 months, with the Department of Child Services attorney present. Parents often have an attorney privately or through legal service groups. The Judge may appoint an attorney for parents in some circumstances. Because the child is often not present, the court relies on the CASA volunteer to advocate exclusively for the child's best interest. CASA volunteers also speak for the child in other settings such as medical, therapeutic, and foster/institutional care. The CASA volunteer becomes the voice of the child.
Who May Volunteer
"The most important qualification for a prospective volunteer is the desire to help children". As a volunteer you will be the voice of an abused or neglected child who needs to be heard throughout the legal process. In order to be eligible, a potential volunteer must:
- Be 21 years of age or older.
- Have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED.
- Pass a criminal history background check
- Obtain references (personal and/or professional).
- Complete a screening interview with CASA staff.
- Complete 33 hours of pre-service training.
- Complete 12 hours of in-service per year.
If you are willing and able to meet all these requirements, go to the Volunteer Application page and fill out the online form or email us with a subject line of "Volunteer Information" for more information.
Responsibilities of a Volunteer
- To research each child's case and conduct an independent assessment of the child's needs and interests.
- To communicate the child's needs at the court hearing and ensure the child's legal rights are protected.
- Seek cooperative solutions with other participants in the case to ensure a safe and permanent home for the child.
- Make the child's wishes known.
- Keep information confidential.