The Role of a CASA


What is a CASA volunteer?

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers include those for whom home placement is being determined in juvenile court. The children are victims of abuse and neglect.

What is the CASA volunteer’s role?

A CASA volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future and remains on the case until it is permanently resolved. The information provided by the CASA helps the court to determine whether or not it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster care, or be freed for permanent adoption.

What kind of advocacy does a CASA do?

The CASA volunteer engages with the child and the stakeholders in their life–parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and anyone else knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA also reviews all records pertaining to the child–school, medical and caseworker reports, and other documents. CASAs both advocate for the child’s best interest in the outcome of their case as well as to ensure their needs are met while they in the foster care system. Each case is as unique as the child involved. Read our Success Stories to get an idea of the many things CASAs do to advocate for the children they serve.

How many cases on average does a CASA volunteer carry at a time?

The Boston CASA Program assigns one case at a time to volunteers. The volunteer works with a single child or one group of siblings.

Do lawyers, judges and social caseworkers support CASA?

Yes. Juvenile Court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice.

How effective have CASA programs been?

Research suggests that 95% of the children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and less time within the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation. Judges have observed that CASA children also have better chances of finding permanent homes than non-CASA children.

How much time does it require?

Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work about 10-15 hours a month.

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

The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child. The Boston CASA Program requires an 18-month commitment.