Marian Wright EdelmanFounder and President of Children’s Defense Fund
Important Information on Becoming a Court-Appointed Special Advocate
Who Can Become an Advocate?
CASA Volunteers are appointed by family court judges to advocate for the best interest of an abused or neglected child during their time in the child welfare system. They are in essence, the voice of the child, in court. CASA Volunteers interview parents, doctors, educators, foster parents, therapists, and anyone else involved in the life of the child to which they are assigned. Their goal is to provide child-focused reports to the court, which will lead to a speedy, safe, and permanent placement for the child. This is why it is imperative for these volunteers to go through extensive training.
All Volunteers are screened closely for objectivity, competence, and commitment. You can become a CASA volunteer if:
What Kind of Commitment is There?
Typically, a CASA volunteer will spend an average 10-20 hours per month working with their assigned case.
Each case is different, so the amount of time required to get the job done varies significantly. We do require the volunteer to visit the child at least once a month and be in court once every three months.
CASA for Children of Bergen County asks that you make a one-year commitment. Some of the cases, however, do not get resolved for 18 months or more. It is ideal if a CASA can stay on the case until permanency is achieved.
One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike others involved in the child’s life, most CASA volunteers remain a consistent figure during the course of case proceedings. This provides important continuity for children.
Four Easy Steps to Become a CASA
Step 1 - Attend an Information Session
Attend one of our monthly information sessions that will provide you with all of the information you need about becoming a CASA. Click here to register. All sessions will be at One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack, NJ. Directions can be found here. For more information, feel free to call our office at 201-336-7520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 2 - Complete Pre-training Paperwork and Interview
During this step each potential volunteer will need to fill out the Volunteer Application as well as provide 4 favorable references from non-family members using our Reference Questionnaire.
The Volunteer Application and all pre-training paperwork should be completed and brought to our office on the day you are interviewed. The interview will be conducted by two CASA staff and will last approximately an hour.
Step 3 - Attend Training
CASA provides extensive training for our volunteers so that they are prepared to provide children with the support they desperately need. CASA volunteers undergo a thorough 30-hour training course that follows National CASA curriculum. We offer training about four times of year with different formats of training to accommodate varying schedules including day time sessions, evening sessions and on-line sessions. During the training, CASA volunteers learn about courtroom procedures, how to navigate the child welfare and family court systems, effective advocacy techniques for children, and specific topics ranging from child abuse to early childhood development and adolescent behavior.
In addition, trainees must attend 3 hours of court observation.
October 3rd, October 10th, October 15th, October 17th, October 22nd, October 24th, Nov. 5th, Nov. 7th, Nov. 12th, and Nov. 14th
Step 4 - Sworn-In by Family Court Judge
After the 34 hour training is completed, paperwork is completed and background checks have cleared, you are sworn in as an official court advocate by the family court judge. You then will be ready to be assigned to your first case and begin advocating for a child.