FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a CASA volunteer?

A: CASA volunteers are community members who have a sincere desire to make a difference in the life of a child in foster care by becoming an advocate in court on the child’s behalf. They are responsible adults who care deeply about the welfare of children and know that when they take on a case, they have the opportunity to change a child's life!

Q: How does a CASA volunteer advocate for a foster child?

A: As an advocate, a CASA volunteer will read DCPP case files and interview all parties associated with the child and the case such as biological parents, foster parents, school personnel, medical and mental health professionals and relatives. A CASA volunteer visits the child in the foster home every month in order to be familiar with what he or she needs. After gathering information, a CASA volunteer writes a report to be sent to the Family Court Judge who is presiding over the case. CASA volunteers are invited to appear at the actual Court hearing on the case to provide in-person testimony related to the report.

Q: What kinds of people become CASA volunteers?

A: CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and all kinds of educational, ethnic and social backgrounds. Most work full time but some are students and some are retired. No special prior experience or legal expertise is required. Objectivity and good communication skills are essential since a CASA volunteer must be able to work with a variety of people from child welfare professionals to birth parents. You must be at least 21 years old to volunteer.

Q: How much time is required?

A: Most cases require approximately 10 to 15 hours per month.

Q: Do I come to an office to do my volunteer work?

A: No, CASA volunteers work out of their own homes or offices and set their own schedules.

Q: What if I need help?

A: Each CASA volunteer is partnered with a Case Supervisor on staff and they work together as a team on a case. Volunteers and their Case Supervisors communicate regularly, sharing information and developing and determining the steps to take on the case. Your Case Supervisor will help with questions you may have, finding necessary resources, planning your investigation and providing any other necessary support. All investigative work and reports to the Court or authorized agencies are undertaken together.

Q: Can I still be a CASA volunteer if I work full time?

A: Absolutely! The time you spend as a CASA volunteer is scheduled at your own convenience. Many of our volunteers work full time and schedule appointments for evenings and weekends. Some flexibility is necessary for attendance at Court hearings and for meetings with DCPP Caseworkers.

Q: What if I need help?

A: Each CASA volunteer is partnered with a Case Supervisor on staff and they work together as a team on a case. Volunteers and their Case Supervisors communicate regularly, sharing information and developing and determining the steps to take on the case. Your Case Supervisor will help with questions you may have, finding necessary resources, planning your investigation and providing any other necessary support. All investigative work and reports to the Court or authorized agencies are undertaken together.

Q: How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved with a case?

A: Each case is different, however a CASA volunteer remains appointed to the case until the permanent plan for the child is in place. A minimum commitment of one year is requested.

Q: Do I have to go into dangerous neighborhoods?

A: You are never required to go into any neighborhood where you feel uncomfortable. Interviews with biological parents and/or relatives of the child can be conducted at the DCPP office, the CASA office or any neutral site in the community such as the public library or a coffee shop. It is mandatory that you visit the child in the foster home at least monthly.  Your Case Supervisor is available in the beginning of the case to accompany you on this visit to help you feel comfortable in this role.

Q: What can I do to help?

A: Volunteer your time to become a CASA for an abused or neglected child in foster care. If you cannot do that, you can still help by becoming a Friend of CASA. You can also support the work of other CASA volunteers by making a donation to CASA. CASA for Children of Essex County is a registered 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization and all donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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