What is CASA?
All children have a right to a home with loving people to care for them. But each year in the United States, millions of chidren are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. Over 580,000 of them are removed from their homes and placed in foster care or into institutions. Eventually, they end up in court. Their only "crime" is that they have been victims. It is up to a judge to decide their future. Should they remain in foster care? Be reunited with parents? Should they be put up for adoption?
In these cases, many children also become victims a second time, lost in an overburdened child welfare system that cannot pay close attention to each child whose life is in it's hands. Sometimes a child can remain adrift in foster care for months - even years. That's where CASA comes in.
CASA volunteers are Court Appointed Special Advocates for children--trained community volunteers appointed by a judge to speak up for abused and neglected children involved in the court system.
What does a CASA Volunteer do?
CASA volunteers are men and women who want to help their community's children. They work for the judge, alongside attorneys, and the Department of Child Services, as appointed officers of the court.
When a CASA volunteer is appointed to a child's case, he or she is responsible for taking the time to find out as much as possible about the child. CASA volunteers search for information, interview parents, talk to teachers, consult therapists and most importantly, get to know the child. The volunteers then appear in court to recommend to the judge what action is best for the child's future.
You can become a CASA volunteer.
Are you a mature, responsible adult? Can you talk to people and children who are having problems? Do you have time to commit? Do you care about children? If you answered "YES," then you may qualify to be a CASA volunteer.
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. They have a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. No special experience is required. Volunteers are selected on the basis of their objectivity, competence and commitment.
Once accepted, volunteers are trained. They learn about courtroom procedures, the social service and juvenile court systems, and the special needs of children who have been abused and neglected.
It takes approximately 8 to 10 hours per month to be a CASA volunteer. It is hard work, but extremely gratifying. If you are interested, please call the Putnam County Youth Development Commission CASA Program at 765.653.9342.