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What are the Duties of a CASA Volunteer?

By O. Wallace
Updated May 17, 2024
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Those who choose to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) make a very important commitment to a child. Also known as Child Advocates, Voices for Children or Guardians ad Litem, a CASA volunteer advocates for abused or neglected children facing a cold family court system. Although this system attempts to work in a child’s best interest, the true interests of the child often gets lost among the red tape, lawyers, social workers and parents. A CASA volunteer works to be that child’s voice, to help a child articulate his wants and needs, while making sure that all the resources of the system are used for the child’s benefit.

Today, there are more than 50,000 CASA volunteers nationwide, serving about 225,000 children annually. Unfortunately, this accounts for only half of the children who go through the system every year. Because a CASA volunteer only handles one case at a time, more volunteers are always needed.

A member of the community can serve at one of 900 local community CASA offices, where they will undergo a background check, and take a 30 hour training course. A CASA volunteer will be expected to provide as many hours as required for the case. Typically, a case will require about ten hours per month, and the average case lasts about a year and a half. The CASA volunteer will stay with the child through the entire case, which is in the child’s best interest. This benefits the child because social workers and lawyers — who must also juggle numerous other cases — may come and go.

Once a CASA volunteer has a case, he or she will be expected to perform several duties. The first is to conduct their own investigation of the case by examining the records of the court and accounts by the social workers, doctors, lawyer and any other pertinent reports. They may also interview the child, family members and foster parents to get a clear picture of the situation. The volunteer will usually have to devote a lot of time getting acquainted with the child in order to get to know them and to gain their trust. He or she will also try to put the child at ease by explaining his situation and answering questions about the case.

The CASA volunteer helps the child determine their desire for the outcome of the case, as well as determine what will work best in the situation the child is. the advocate’s goal is to create a solution that take into account not only the child’s desires, but also what is in the best interest for the child in regards to many factors.

The CASA volunteer appears at all the hearings and meetings pertaining to the child’s case in order to monitor the course of the case as well as to make recommendations on the child’s behalf, and ensure that the child is being adequately represented. She also follows up to ensure that the recommendations are being implemented correctly, and to report to the court if certain requirements are not being met, or if the child is not getting the resources that were allocated to him or her.

Depending on how devoted the CASA volunteer is, he or she may continue to keep in touch with children, even after they are out of the system. Many of these dedicated members of the community truly care for these children and most definitely make a very positive contribution to the social services system.

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Discussion Comments
By anon926441 — On Jan 18, 2014

CASA volunteers are allowed to call and talk to a child's doctor. Medical confidentiality is put in the hands of a judge when the child is determined to be a CHINS (child in need of services). Speaking with medical professionals (of both the child and parents) is specifically enumerated in all of my CASA appointments.

CASAs may and do gather information from Facebook. It's amazing what people post.

By anon320300 — On Feb 16, 2013

Actually, I am a CASA volunteer. I get no monetary compensation for my work. I do it to try and help children. However, it is social work. Please, when stereotyping all social workers, unless you have walked in these shoes, note the shoe size.

Not all social workers can "smile" about the system as it is. We have to be honest in all we do. If you can prove you know they are all rude and unhappy old women, give their supervisors a name and I am sure they will be reprimanded for their lack of effort.

I am not rude, just concerned also please note, we see the suffering of all individuals all day long, and it is depressing. I smile all of the time.

By anon291804 — On Sep 17, 2012

Is a CASA volunteer allowed to call and talk to my child's doctor? What happened to medical confidentiality? Also, is a CASA volunteer stalking my facebook crossing the line or is that okay?

By anon252790 — On Mar 06, 2012

@post number 5: For your information, I went out of my way to smile and greet our caseworker every single time I saw her, but she would literally turn her head to keep from saying hello to me but I finally started asking, "Mrs. G., did you hear me?"

And for your comment about social workers not making much money, what about the bonus you get for each child you put in foster care, and then you get another bonus for keeping that child with foster care for a year then you get another bonus if that child is adopted? This is no myth. It's a true fact. My grandson went to foster care because our caseworker lied under oath and said my grandson had special needs, which was an outright lie. Then you talk about your heavy workload. Why don't you all stop taking kids out of loving homes for no reason and concentrate on the poor children who really need your help and are being abused? That would solve that workload problem real fast.

By anon217279 — On Sep 24, 2011

Casa volunteers do not get paid.

By anon138128 — On Dec 30, 2010

I just happen to look at the comments and am very disturbed as a fellow social worker. The one thing I can tell you is that social workers are not in it for the money. We do not make much at all!

Second, a lot of social workers smile. If you find one who does not, take some time to talk to them and offer some encouragement. This arena of employment is often discouraging. There are many times when we feel that the system is set up to reunify children with their families or mend families in order for this to be achieved.

In addition, you begin this profession with a desire to help children and families; in the end you realize that you are really the scapegoat for what the government will not fund, the sounding board for all who are involved with the case (CASA, GAL, judge, lawyers, therapists, foster parents, foster care agencies, etc.). Imagine all these people contacting you on a daily basis on all your cases, that may be up to 40; making suggesting that you know you cannot fulfill because the "system" won't allow it. And you have to smile and say I will look into that. It is not easy and there is tremendous burnout.

So the next time you see a social worker, smile at them, maybe put your hand on their shoulder to slow them down and say - Thank you for wanting to help the most vulnerable individuals in society and take on the liability of their lives! I bet you get a big thank you, sigh and a smile! By the way here is one from a social worker.

By anon62832 — On Jan 28, 2010

Yes, to saralee76140, i have seen them smile and lie at the same time. It makes you wonder who is for the children or do they just want the government and court money or better yet how much do they get paid. And yes they are very rude in front of the children.

By saralee76140 — On Jan 27, 2010

Has anyone of you ever seen a caseworker smile or say even one nice word? Are they all rude and unhappy old women? That's the way they are in johnson county tx.

By anon16772 — On Aug 14, 2008

has anyone here been a GAL/CASA volunteer. Did you ever have a lot of trouble with the parents?

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