Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are volunteers who work in conjunction with child protective services and the juvenile justice system to meet the needs of abused and neglected children for safety and for suitable, permanent homes.
CASA volunteers conduct an independent review of the child's circumstances and submits a formal recommendation for the child's permanent placement. During the review the CASA volunteer interviews individuals with pertinent information such as the child, parents, family members, teachers, neighbors, and physicians. The CASA volunteer also reviews all pertinent records and documents. The CASA program began in Seattle in 1977. Currently, nearly 650 child advocate programs are in operation. The court appoints the volunteers and dismisses them if they fail to meet their responsibilities. Developing a successful CASA program requires a strong judge who serves as the program's advocate and mentor, a clear definition of the CASA's role, an efficient and effective program director, and recruitment and training of a diverse group of volunteers. Qualities of effective volunteers include independent, objective thinking and impartiality; persistence and dedication to completing a thorough case review; the ability to serve as an active CASA volunteer throughout the case; good communication skills; and willingness and ability to learn. OJJDP's national CASA program provides a comprehensive 40-hour training curriculum that local jurisdictions can adapt to their needs. The National CASA Association was formed in 1982 to strengthen the integrity and professionalism of its members. Addresses of resource organizations
Program Description (Model)
Date Published: March 1, 1997