What does CASA Stand for?
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, which is a community volunteer who is trained and sworn in as an officer of the court and advocates for children in foster care.
What do CASA volunteers do?
Volunteers form a relationship with a foster child and advocate for his/her best interests. They speak with everyone in that child’s life- parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers, and others. This information is used by the volunteer to write court reports and inform the judge of the child’s needs and wishes.
How old are the children you serve?
We can serve children from birth to 21 years old.
Who are the people that volunteer?
Our volunteers come from various ages and backgrounds. They range from college student, to professionals, to retirees. They are concerned members of the community who undergo thorough background checks, have completed training, and are committed to being a consistent, caring adult in the life of a foster child. The majority of our volunteers are females, but we are always looking for more men to join the team. We also continue to have a need for bilingual Spanish-English speaking volunteers as well as Nuumu (Paiute) and Newe (Shoshone) volunteers.
How many children does a volunteer support?
Depending on the complexity of the case and the experience level of the CASA, an advocate can support up to 3 children. In situations with siblings, CASAs may have more than one child or will have a co-CASA who works beside them with the other sibling(s).
What is the time commitment?
We ask our volunteers to meet with their children at least twice a month- when and what you do on these outings is controlled by you. A CASA can expect to spend approximately 12-16 hours a month on his/her child’s case. This time estimate includes everything & anything tied to the child including actual time spent with the child, drive time, note-taking time, phone calls, emails, texts, time talking with advocate supervisors, etc.
We ask for a minimum commitment of 12 months or until your child’s case is resolved as we strive to create consistency in a child’s life.
What is the process to become an advocate?
In addition to the written application, our process is comprehensive to assure the best fit for the volunteer, organization, and the foster youth. This includes an interview, reference checks, background checks, a five-week training period, and ongoing evaluations during the year. Please contact us for more details on the process.
Do you ever turn people away?
This volunteer opportunity is not always a match for everyone who is interested. We want to make certain that the volunteer is ready for the long-term commitment and emotional responsibility that CASAs are expected to assume. Occasionally, we find that becoming a CASA is an overwhelming role for some volunteers, and that is OKAY. For the safety and protection of both the volunteers and foster youth, we have to turn down applicants that are not yet ready to become an advocate.
What is training like?
The 30-hour training covers topics relevant to the child welfare system, understanding the developmental needs of children and families, educational support, personal boundaries, cultural diversity, and how to serve in the capacity of a Court Appointed Special Advocate. An additional 4-hour Mandated Reporter training is also required as is a court observation.
Once sworn in advocates are required to obtain 12 continuing education credits each year.
Are there ways to volunteer other than becoming an advocate?
Yes! Our organization welcomes non-advocate volunteers that assist us in office projects, holiday programs, fundraising events, and special classes or activities for the children. Please contact us at (760)-873-6601 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in other volunteer opportunities.
Is CASA of the Eastern Sierra open during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Yes! Although we are not working out of the office we are still working from home. We conduct trainings and meetings via zoom until we can meet again in person and leave it up to Volunteers if they meet with their children remotely or in person. Most volunteers have continued meeting with their children in person, finding fun, healthy activities that can be done safely while following applicable county/state health guidelines. Advocates can also choose to attend court in person or via phone.
Where does my donation go?
Donations go directly towards supporting foster children in Inyo and Mono Counties by helping CASA of the Eastern Sierra recruit, train and retain more volunteers. Direct Donations also help us fund direct services and supplies for out CASA Children. All donations are tax-deductible. If you have further questions about what your donation will be used for please contact us.