I'M A CASA, WHAT'S YOUR SUPERPOWER?
A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a trained and dedicated community volunteer appointed to lift the voice of court-involved youth in DC and speak for their best interests. CASA volunteers form a one-on-one mentor-like relationship with children who have open abuse and neglect or juvenile justice cases in the DC Family Court.
CASA youth range in age from infancy to 21 and have a broad range of needs. CASA volunteers assess a youth’s circumstances, support the youth through positive experiences and goal-attainment, communicate with an interdisciplinary team of supports, and advocate for what is in the youth’s best interest. CASA volunteers are appointed and sworn in by Judges to carry out this work.
While teachers, therapists, and other professionals come and go, the CASA provides a constant support for the youth to count on in order to thrive.
CASAs are expected to...
Build a relationship: Visit the child twice a month. Your visits can be anything ranging from bike riding to volunteering together at an animal shelter, to working on college applications
Gather information: Review documents and records, speak with the child, family, and professionals in the child’s life
Document findings: Write a court report for each hearing
Attend court hearings: Appear at the youth’s hearings and provide testimony when necessary. Hearings are roughly 30 minutes to one hour and occur every 3-6 months during the day on weekdays.
Explain what is going on: Help the youth understand the court proceedings
“Fill in the cracks”: Identify where youth has unmet needs and seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children’s lives.
Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their families are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child’s health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals.
Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held
Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members. Ensure that regular court reports are filed with best interest recommendations and assessments so the court knows about any changes in the child’s situation.