Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CASA volunteer? ¿Qué significa ser un voluntario de CASA?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court.
All of the children served by CASA are victims of abuse and neglect.
Un defensor especializado nombrado por la corte (CASA, por sus siglas en inglés) es un ciudadano capacitado para representar el mejor interés del menor en la corte.
Todos los niños atendidos por CASA son víctimas de abuso y negligencia.
What is the role of a CASA? ¿Qué papel cumple un defensor de CASA?
A CASA provides a judge with carefully researched background details about the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child's future.
Each case is as unique as the child involved. The advocate evaluates the child’s situation to recommend whatever is in the child’s best interest. The advocate follows through on the case until it is permanently resolved.
Un defensor de CASA proporciona al juez detalles de antecedentes cuidadosamente investigados sobre el menor para ayudar a la corte a tomar una decisión acertada sobre el futuro de ese niño o niña.
Cada caso es tan único como el menor involucrado. El defensor evalúa la situación del niño o niña para hacer recomendaciones buscando siempre el mejor interés del menor. El defensor sigue adelante con el caso hasta que se resuelva de manera permanente.
How do CASAs investigate a case? ¿Cómo un Defensor de CASA investiga un caso?
The CASA talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child's history. The CASA also reviews all records pertaining to the child−school, medical, case worker reports and other documents.
How are CASAs different from social service caseworkers? ¿En qué se diferencian los defensores de CASA de los trabajadores de los servicios sociales?
Social workers generally are employed by state governments or their subcontractors and are sometimes working on as many as 60 to 90 cases at a time; they are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each case. The CASA has more time and a smaller caseload to work (CASAs typically are only assigned to 1 case at a time.) The CASA does not replace a social worker on a case; they are an independent appointee of the court. The CASA thoroughly examines a child's case, knows about various community resources and makes recommendations to the court independent of state agency restrictions.
How is the CASA different from the child’s attorney? ¿En qué se diferencia CASA del abogado del menor?
The CASA does not provide legal representation in the courtroom−that is the role of the attorney. However, the CASA does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases. It is important to remember that CASA do not represent a child's wishes in court. Rather, they speak through their court report for the child's best interests, and reports the child’s wishes in the court report.
Is there a "typical" CASA? ¿Hay un modelo “típico” de CASA?
Our advocates come from all walks of life and possess a variety of professional, educational, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. There are no special educational requirements or prior knowledge of social welfare issues required to become a CASA. Many CASAs are full-time employed, others are retired, some are students, and both men and women are CASAs. CASAs must be at least 21 years old.
How do CASAs help children? ¿Cómo los defensores de CASA ayudan a los menores?
CASAs offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They help explain to the child the events happening involving the case, reasons they are in court and the roles of the judge, lawyers and case workers. While remaining objective observers, CASAs also encourage the child to express his or her own opinion and hopes about the case. Children who have had a CASA representing their best interests tend to not re-enter foster care once they’ve found permanency. The family is provided with more tailored services to meet their unique needs, and the children are provided with a consistent adult with whom they can develop a trusting relationship. Because CASAs are trained to advocate for the child’s needs, the CASA continually assesses the child’s situation, and identifies appropriate resources to benefit the child.
Do lawyers, judges and social caseworkers support CASA? ¿Los abogados, jueces y trabajadores sociales apoyan al programa?
Juvenile and family court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal government also supports CASA, making CASA a priority project of the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. CASA is found in 49 states.
How much time is required to volunteer? ¿Cuánto tiempo se requiere para ser voluntario?
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases can take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers give about 10 hours a month to their case.
The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child. CASA requires a 2 year commitment.
Un voluntario de CASA generalmente dedica alrededor de diez horas investigando y realizando entrevistas antes de la primera aparición en la corte. Los casos más complicados pueden tomar más tiempo. Cada caso es diferente. Una vez iniciados en el sistema, los voluntarios destinan alrededor de 10 horas al mes a su caso.
El voluntario continúa con su trabajo hasta que el caso es resuelto de manera permanente. Uno de los principales beneficios del programa CASA es que, a diferencia de otros directores judiciales que a menudo rotan casos, el voluntario CASA es una figura consistente durante el proceso y proporciona continuidad para el menor. Un defensor de CASA requiere un compromiso de dos años.
Are there other agencies or groups providing a similar service? ¿Hay otras agencias o grupos que presten un servicio similar?
There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child's best interests.