1. How are CASA volunteers different from attorneys?
The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom−that is the role of the attorney. However, the CASA volunteer does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases. It is important to remember that CASA volunteers do not represent a child’s wishes in court. Rather, they speak for the child’s best interests.
2. Is there a “typical” CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and from a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. There are nearly 1,000 CASA volunteers statewide. Local programs vary in the number of volunteers they utilize. Aside from their CASA volunteer work, 60 percent are employed in full- or part-time jobs; 60% are college or university graduates. The majority (82%) of the volunteers nationwide are women.
3. How do CASA volunteers advocate for children?
CASA volunteers offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They help explain to the child the events happening involving the case, the reasons they are in court and the roles of the judge, lawyers and case workers. While remaining objective observers, CASA volunteers also encourage the child to express his or her own opinion and hopes about the case.
4. How many cases does a CASA volunteer carry at a time?
The caseload is one child or one group of siblings.
5. How many CASA programs exist in Maryland?
There are now 15 CASA programs serving 19 of the 24 jurisdictions in Maryland.
6. How effective are CASA programs?
Judges report that they assign CASA volunteers to the most complex cases with the highest number of risk factors for the children involved. Findings show that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and less time in the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation. Judges have observed that children with CASA volunteers also have better chances of finding permanent homes. In 4-out-of-5 cases, all or almost all of the CASA volunteer’s recommendations are accepted by the court. A recent audit conducted by the US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General demonstrates that once a CASA volunteer is assigned, approximately:
95% of children do not languish in long-term foster care.
90% of children do not re-enter the child welfare system.
7. How much time is required to volunteer?
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 hours a month.
8. How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved?
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.
9. What children are assigned CASA volunteers?
CASA volunteers are typically appointed to children who are under the protection of the court as a result of abuse and neglect.
10. How can I find the CASA program in my community?
CASA programs are known by a variety of names, including Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children and Voices for Children. In order to find a CASA program is in your area, click here.
11. How do I get more information about becoming a CASA volunteer or joining the Maryland CASA Association?
For more information fill out the "Request a Volunteer Packet" form located under the Volunteer section of the website.