CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers are everyday people appointed by a judge to speak up for abused and neglected children in court.
In Arizona, there are 15 county CASA programs administered by the CASA of Arizona office which is a program of the Dependent Children's Services Division of the Arizona Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts.
CASA of Arizona and its volunteers have been advocating for abused and neglected children in Arizona for over 30 years and have served over 21,541 children.What does it mean to be a CASA volunteer?
Becoming a CASA volunteer is an investment of time, energy and heart. But as many volunteers have said of the children they worked with: "It wasn't about what I gave them, it was what they showed me."
How much time does it take to be a CASA volunteer?
All volunteers must complete a 30-hour pre-service training. The time commitment to a case varies depending upon the stage of the case. Volunteers sometimes say that there is a greater amount of work in the beginning of the case, when they are conducting their initial research. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 15 hours a month on a case.
- Be 21 years old
- Be willing to complete necessary background checks, provide references and participate in an interview
- Complete a minimum of 30 hours of pre-service training
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed
Exactly what does a CASA volunteer do?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
- Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
- Document findings: Provide written reports prior to court hearings to document the child's health, education, mental health, etc. Ensure that the children and their family are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available.
- Appear in court: Advocate for the child's best interest, keep the court updated and recommend services.
- Build a relationship with the child: Explain what is going on and help the child understand the court proceedings.
- "Be the glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives. As one volunteer said: Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
For more information on how to become a CASA, please visit www.CASAofArizona.org or call 602-452-3683.