CASA volunteers are specifically trained individuals from all walks of life who advocate for the well-being of Athens and Oconee children in foster care. They are appointed by the court to speak up for the best interest of children.
Providing compassionate, individualized attention to help each child find a safe, permanent home is a CASA volunteer's sole purpose. By meeting with teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers, and foster parents, they improve the child's representation, both in and out of court.
CASA volunteers are a stable influence in the life of a foster child whose whole world has been turned upside down due to abuse or neglect. They give the child hope by giving them a voice.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained community volunteer who is appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of an abused or neglected child who is in foster care. The CASA volunteer gathers information about the child's situation, attends court proceedings and makes a written recommendation to the judge so that the judge has the information to make a decision about the child's future. How to become a CASA:
Sincerely care for the well-being of children
Be at least 21 years of age
Complete an application, including references, interview and a brief autobiography
Undergo a criminal background check
Complete 40 hours of training
Have good verbal and written communication skills
Have the ability to be objective and non-judgmental
Be available to attend court hearings
Commit to CASA program for at least one year or until case is resolved
Be sworn-in by the judge
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.
Appear in court: Advocate for the child's best interests and provide testimony when necessary.
Explain what is going on: Help the childunderstand the court proceedings.
"Be the glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives. As one volunteer said: Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their family 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 appropriate motions are filed on behalf of the child so the court knows about any changes in the child's situation.
Our next CASA training class will begin September 10th and go until October 15th. During that time we meet once a week on Thursdays in the morning (10 am-1:30 pm) and in the evening (5:30 pm-9 pm) . Our graduation/swearing in ceremony with be on October 22nd at 5:30 pm. We invite anyone interested in learning more about our program to attend an information session at 693 North Pope St. on July 21st at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm. Orientation for Fall training will also take place at 693 North Pope St. on August 18th at 10:30 am and 5:30 pm.Please feel free to explore our website http://www.athensoconeecasa.org/ and like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AthensOconeeCASA/