What is a CASA Volunteer?
A CASA volunteer is a court appointed, trained, and committed adult who will represent and advocate for a child’s best interest in the child protection system. CASA volunteers are 21 years and older and will go through careful screening and receive 30-40 hours of training before being assigned to children. The primary responsibility is to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court, getting to know the child while gathering information from the child’s family, foster parents, teachers, counselors, etc. and making recommendations to help the judge decide what is best for the child. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives.
As a CASA Volunteer, you:
- – Spend quality time with your CASA child or children
- – Stay in touch with family, caregivers, teachers, therapists and other important adults in your CASA child’s life
- – Participate in case meetings and review case documents
- – Determine what is in the best interest of the children
- – Present your information and opinions to the judge in court
For children who have been abused or neglected, having a CASA means being a priority instead of feeling invisible. For volunteers, being a CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our communities a better place.
Volunteers Needed for Older Foster Youth
One caring person can make an enormous difference in the life of an older foster youth.
More than half of all foster youth in Maryland are over the age of 14. Without family or dependable adult relationships, foster youth are at a greatly increased risk of experiencing homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and illness. Maryland CASA Association seeks volunteers to help these older foster youth on their path to independence.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (“CASAs”) for older foster youth complete an extensive training process before being appointed by the Juvenile Court to the case of an abused or neglected child. CASAs make a real difference in the lives of the older foster youth they serve by empowering them to advocate for themselves to access the support they need to make a successful transition to adulthood.
According to various studies* across the country of young people who have aged out of foster care without a permanent family:
- – 12-30 percent struggled with homelessness.
- – 40-63 percent did not complete high school.
- – 25-55 percent were unemployed; those employed had average earnings below the poverty level, and only 38 percent of those employed were still working after one year.
- – 30-62 percent had trouble accessing health care due to inadequate finances or lack of insurance.
- – 32-40 percent were forced to rely on some form of public assistance and 50 percent experienced extreme financial hardship.
- – 31-42 percent had been arrested.
- – 18-26 percent were incarcerated.
- – 40-60 percent of the young women were pregnant within 12-18 months of leaving foster care.
Your powerful voice can put a struggling young adult on the path to success.
Here are some of our volunteers and staff speaking on the CASA experience: