Frequently Asked Questions about CASA

Once appointed by a juvenile court judge, our volunteers begin a process of information gathering with the goal of guiding abused children out of the foster care system, identifying the child’s needs and ensuring rehabilitative services. They act as a communications link between the child and the juvenile court. Volunteers gather all the pertinent information about their child’s case and make recommendations to the judge based on that information.

Volunteers provide a continuum of services customized to meet each child’s needs. They locate vital therapeutic and rehabilitative services for 100 percent of the children we serve to help children deal with the trauma of abuse. Services for the child and family may include psychological evaluations and treatment, educational assistance, and parent/family education. They may also include researching and helping to locate resources for quality of life experiences for summer camp, sports and arts programs, and other extracurricular activities. In addition, our volunteers help children and families access special needs items such as eyeglasses, clothing, beds, tutoring, school supplies, backpacks and other basic needs.

Volunteers work in tandem with a staff Volunteer Coordinator who guides their casework and supports the efforts of the volunteer. Our staff members have expertise in working on behalf of abused children and are there to coach the volunteer through casework, court, working with the child and families and all other aspects of their volunteer role. The volunteer/staff member team approaches the child’s case jointly, ensuring the best services are delivered to the child.

Preliminary findings show that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and less time within the foster care system than those without CASA representation. Judges have observed that CASA children also have a better chance of finding permanent homes.

Research has shown that children with CASA volunteers:
-Are half as likely to re-enter foster care
-Are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
-Are more likely to be adopted -Have more services ordered for them
-Are more likely to have a consistent, responsible adult presence
-Spend less time in foster care

Volunteers come from all careers, cultures, educational backgrounds, ages, and experiences – that’s what makes this program work. The primary requirements for being a volunteer child advocate with CASA are that you have a genuine interest in the well being of children, are a proactive communicator and complete our CASA Volunteer training course. CASA volunteers are objective, responsible, committed, persistent and understand the important role they have in a child’s life. Both men and women are needed as volunteers and you need to be at least 21 years of age.
In the same amount of time you spend each week doing something ordinary, like attending a movie, you can do something extraordinary—change the life of an abused child. Volunteers average 2-5 hours of casework per week (8 to 20 hours per month). Over half of our volunteers work full-time.
DCS workers sometimes work on as many as 30 to 50 cases at one time! The CASA volunteer has more time and a smaller caseload, typically one case at one time. The CASA volunteer does not replace a social worker; rather, he/she acts as an independent appointee of the court. The CASA volunteer can thoroughly examine a child’s case, has knowledge of community resources, and can make a recommendation to the court, independent of state agency restrictions.
The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom. However, the CASA volunteer does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases. It is important to remember that CASA volunteers do not represent a child’s wishes in court; rather, they speak for the child’s best interest.
Yes. Juvenile and family court judges across the nation implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint the volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators. Locally, the Madison County Juvenile Court, as well as the Tennessee Bar Foundation support and partner with Madison County CASA.
As a private, nonprofit organization, we raise all of our own funds through city, state and county sources, foundations, special events, individual giving, places of worship, associations, and corporations.
CASA programs are required to hire staff to manage the program and provide for the recruitment, screening, training and supervision of volunteers to ensure the highest quality services are provided. Program costs include: salaries, office support, computers, equipment, travel, and training.