Volunteer as a CASA2022-11-21T16:34:24-06:00

Volunteer as a CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocates for children is a volunteer-powered network of committed people from all walks of life who believe society has a fundamental obligation to these children. We are people just like you who believe that every child has the right to be treated with dignity, to be safe, and to thrive in the embrace of a loving family.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges, advocate for children until their case is closed and they reach a safe, permanent home. Volunteers work with legal and child welfare professional, educators and others to ensure that judges have all the information they need to make potentially life-changing decisions for each child. These stories have better endings because of people like you.

How to Become a CASA Volunteer Advocate

As a CASA advocate, you can change a child’s story. Please complete the steps below to apply to become a Sangamon County CASA Advocate.

1. Review the CASA volunteer advocate position description
2. Complete the Volunteer Application
3. Complete a Background Check

When the three steps above are complete, we will contact you to schedule a CASA volunteer interview.

Advocates must be at least 21 years old to apply.

Sangamon County CASA offers several training classes per year.

We will train you so you’ll be ready to stand beside children in the court system to:

  • Watch over and advocate for the best interest of each child.

  • Make sure each child in foster care does not get lost in the overburdened legal and social services system.

  • Avoid each child languishing in inappropriate group or foster homes.

Questions? Contact us.

Learn More!

Volunteer FAQ

What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)?2022-01-31T11:24:45-06:00

When a child enters the foster care system because his or her home is no longer safe due to abuse or neglect, a judge may appoint a committed volunteer to advocate for the best interests of the child or youth in juvenile court and other settings.  That volunteer is called a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA.

How do I become a CASA?2022-01-31T11:25:09-06:00

CASA volunteers must to be at least 21 years old, submit an application, participate in an interview with CASA staff, pass a criminal background check, and acquire fingerprints.  Once accepted, the volunteer participates in a 30-hour Pre-Service training class.  Upon successful completion of the Pre-Service training class, the juvenile court judge will swear you in as an Officer of the Court.

What is a CASA volunteer’s role?2022-01-31T11:25:32-06:00

CASA volunteers are appointed specifically to a child or a group of children in the same family.  They provide a source of consistency and stability in a child’s life by visiting them at least once per month.  They get to know the children, gather important information from reports and professionals involved in the lives of the children.  With this knowledge, they advocate for the best interests of the child in relation to their education, health, housing placements, and their overall well-being.  They provide court reports to the judge with the information they gather to defend the best interests of the children.

Does a CASA need legal knowledge or expertise?2022-01-31T11:25:41-06:00

No.  CASAs are valuable because they come from all walks-of-life and can draw on a variety of professional and personal experiences.  Most importantly, they are responsible, caring adults with good common sense.  However, while you may initially have little legal knowledge, you will learn a lot about the legal process and the juvenile court system through your CASA volunteer training and experience.

How many cases does a CASA volunteer manage?2022-01-31T11:27:43-06:00

Generally, CASAs manage only one case at a time.  However, a case can involve one child or a sibling group from the same family.

How much time does it require to be a CASA volunteer?2022-01-31T11:27:59-06:00

Volunteer Advocates devote an average of up to 10 hours per month to case activities, including visiting with the child(ren), participating in meetings and court hearing (in person or virtually), communicating with professionals, family members and caregivers, documenting visits and advocacy progress, writing court reports, and communicating regularly with an assigned Advocate Supervisor.  Court appearances and some case activities (i.e. making contact with caseworkers, teachers, therapists, etc.) might require availability during regular workweek hours; if volunteer is able to make these meetings, he or she will communicate with the Advocate Supervisor for assistance in these areas.  Court hearings are scheduled weeks or months in advance, which helps with planning.

How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved with a case?2022-01-31T11:28:12-06:00

Ideally, the CASA remains with the child until his or her case is closed.  We ask volunteers to make a minimum two-year commitment.  One of the primary benefits for a child with a CASA is having a consistent adult presence in the child’s life – sometimes the only consistent, stable adult presence.

Why does a child need a CASA?2022-01-31T11:28:26-06:00

When the court is making decisions that will affect a child’s future, the child needs and deserves a spokesperson – an objective adult to provide independent information about the child’s best interests.  While other parties in the case are concerned about the child, they also represent other interests.  The CASA is the only person in the case whose sole concern is the best interest of the child.  CASAs are assigned one case at a time – one CASA per each child or sibling group to provide that child with a “voice in court”.

How does a CASA volunteer differ from a social service caseworker?2022-01-31T11:28:39-06:00

The CASA role is independent from the social services system and focuses solely on the child.  The Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) caseworkers serve the entire family – parents and child(ren) – by providing direct services.  DCFS caseworkers are not able to be a wholly independent voice because they are part of an agency that has already taken a position in the case by filing a petition and bringing the matter to court.  Conversely, a CASA is an independent voice, advocating on behalf of one particular child.  Generally, a social worker is employed by state or local governments and can have dozens of cases at one time, making a comprehensive investigation of each case a challenge.  The CASA, however, is assigned specifically to a child or sibling group and can devote more time to his or her assigned case.  The CASA does not replace a social worker; he or she is an independent appointee of the court.  The CASA thoroughly examines a child’s case, investigates various community resources and makes recommendations to the court.

How does the role of a CASA volunteer differ from an attorney?2022-01-31T11:28:50-06:00

The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom.  That is the role of an attorney.  However, the CASA volunteer does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases.  The CASA and attorney can work as a team to represent the best interests of the child.

Does the court listen to what a CASA advocate has to say?2022-01-31T11:29:03-06:00

Judges know their decisions are only as good as the information they receive. So, yes, they count on the CASA advocate’s independent voice, recognizing that the CASA volunteer advocate has more time to focus on specific cases. A CASA advocate who can tell the court “I was there; this is what I observed,” is invaluable.

How do we know CASAs are effective?2022-01-31T11:29:15-06:00

Research has shown CASAs help reduce court costs, stays in foster care and even delinquency rates.  A study by the National CASA Association showed that children with a CASA spent approximately eight fewer months in foster care than children without a CASA.  This not only means that a child finds a permanent and safe home more quickly, but also reflects a significant savings to taxpayers.

How is CASA funded?2022-01-31T11:29:26-06:00

CASA of Sangamon County is a program under the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center.  We are a Sangamon County Agency.  We are funded through a combination of funds from Sangamon County, state and federal grants, fundraisers & donations.

Does the CASA role require travel?2022-01-31T11:29:37-06:00

Local travel is necessary, as the duties of a CASA include monthly, face-to-face contact with the child wherever he or she resides, plus required court hearings a few times per year.  You may also need to travel to gather information from other parties related to the case.

What kind of support can CASAs expect?2022-01-31T11:29:42-06:00

Each CASA Advocate is assigned to an Advocate Supervisor, and has access to continuing education training and materials through CASA of Sangamon County and staff, as well as through Illinois CASA.

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