Each CASA program or agency professionally trains and carefully screens volunteers to become Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children in juvenile court. These volunteers represent the best interests of the victimized child with the goal of securing a safe, permanent home. Tennessee state law allows for judges to appoint CASA volunteers to "speak up" for the child's best interests. CASA volunteers do not work for the child's family, the state, or other interested parties. They work for the child. Most CASA volunteers represent only one child, or family of children at a time.
A CASA Volunteer’s Duties:
- Find the Facts – A CASA volunteer reviews all relevant documents and records including, but not limited to, those of the social services department, police, court, physicians and schools. Volunteers interview the child, parents, social workers, relatives, school personnel, and others having knowledge of the facts in the situation that are crucial in getting a clear picture of the child’s life.
- Determine the Best Interests of the Child – In assessing the best interests of the individual child, CASA volunteers consider many things including: current age and sense of time, level of maturity, culture, ethnicity, and the degree of attachment to family members and siblings. Just as important to a child’s health development are continuity, consistency, identity, and a sense of belonging.
- Provide Written Reports and Appear at Hearings – The CASA ensures that all relevant facts are presented to the court at the time of the hearings.
- Explain Court Proceedings and the Role of the CASA – CASA volunteers explain court proceedings and the role of the CASA worker so that the child can understand what is happening.
- Monitor Implementation of Service Plans and Court Orders – It is critical that the CASA volunteer follow-up on the activities in a child’s case because this is often where the system fails. CASA volunteers may provide follow-up home studies for their cases and those that require interstate cooperation.
- Inform the Court of Developments – The CASA volunteer acts as the “eyes and ears” of the court. Because CASA volunteers are assigned only one or two cases at a time, the CASA volunteer has more time to spend on behalf of the child. The CASA may make the court aware of any failure of a court-ordered service or the family’s failure to participate in the court-ordered services. If circumstances change in the child’s life, the CASA volunteer should make those changes known to the court.
- Advocate for the Child in the Community – The CASA volunteer represents and ensures the child’s best interest with all service providers within the community.
Interested in becoming a CASA volunteer?
Use our interactive map to find a program in your area