Most Common Questions
Key information you need to know about becoming a CASA volunteer advocate.
A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer advocates in court for a victimized child in an abuse and/or neglect case. The CASA volunteer serves as a Guardian ad Litem (“guardian of the case”). It is his or her job to get to know the child or sibling group they are assigned to work with and make recommendations to the court about what is in the child’s best interests.
No other program in New Hampshire provides personalized advocacy services for neglected and abused children. A CASA volunteer advocate is by a child’s side throughout an abuse and/or neglect case, telling the judge what the child wants. The CASA volunteer makes sure that the child has access to the support and services he or she needs and, finally, that the child is placed in a safe home.
Judges across New Hampshire request CASA advocates because they bring better outcomes for victimized children. Children who are assigned a CASA advocate spend less time in foster care, do better in school and have higher self-esteem.
The short answer — adults of all ages from all walks of life can volunteer.
CASA volunteer advocates are regular citizens who want to help change a child’s future for the better. They are caring and compassionate people who are willing to make sure the child’s voice is heard. They are men and women. They are retired from any number of careers or empty nesters still working full or part-time. They are young working professionals or stay-at-home parents. They are your neighbors, colleagues, fellow parishioners and friends.
CASA volunteers help make sure the child’s best interests are represented while the court examines the parents’ ability to properly care for their children. Studies have shown children who are assigned a CASA advocate spend less time in foster care, do better in school and have higher self-esteem. Judges across New Hampshire request CASA advocates because they bring better outcomes for victimized children at a significant savings to New Hampshire residents.
The CASA volunteer has two main roles:
- To attend court proceedings and write court reports. CASA volunteers make recommendations in the child’s best interest directly to the court. They makes sure that the judge understands what the child needs and wants.
- To visit the child and important people in the child’s life.The volunteer visits the child, parents, foster parents, educators and other important people in the child’s life. Their goal is to understand what the child needs and what the best outcome of the case would be for the child.
CASA volunteers begin with just one case.Once that case is underway, the volunteer can be assigned to an additional case if they have the time and feel comfortable doing so.
CASAs spend an average of 10 to 15 hours per month on each case. The first two to three months of a case tend to be more time-intensive because volunteers are making contacts, visiting the child and other important people, and attending hearings.
Many CASA volunteers work full-time, have busy family lives and take vacations whenever they want! Court hearings are scheduled 30-90 days in advance, and most other activities can be done at the volunteer’s discretion.
CASA volunteers are asked to make a commitment to stay with each case they assume until the case closes — typically, around 24 months. Sometimes cases close sooner; sometimes longer. It’s impossible to predict at the onset how long a case will be active.
Each CASA volunteer must complete 40-hour pre-service training. The curriculum instructs volunteers on how to be an effective advocate, how courtroom procedure works, how to write a court report and other aspects of advocacy work. Guest speakers include professionals from social service agencies, lawyers and judges.
After training, CASA volunteers are assigned a program manager. The job of the program manager is to answer questions, keep volunteers on track and help volunteers write court reports. New volunteers are also assigned a peer coordinator who will help mentor and guide new advocates through the process.
There are numerous additional resources following the initial training including ongoing specialized training, workshops, and support groups to help keep CASAs well-informed. View our 2017 training schedule to find a training near you.
Maybe, but it will also fill it. Volunteers frequently remark the rewards of making a difference in a child’s life outweigh the emotional challenges this work can present.
Many volunteers track their mileage and other expenses (phone calls, postage) and use it as a tax write-off at year end. As a nonprofit organization, CASA is not in a position to reimburse expenses.
Yes! Being a CASA is not possible for everyone. We also seek individuals and corporations who wish to help underwrite the organization, or sponsor an event. There are also a number of committees to join, or you can volunteer as a receptionist in the office. Or, simply, help spread the word about the great work CASA does for New Hampshire’s children! Follow us on social media to help spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues.