CASA volunteers are objective, community members who are not a part of the child welfare system, who focus their efforts solely on gathering information and making recommendations regarding the children in abuse, neglect or dependency cases, who otherwise have no voice. CASA volunteers do not replace other social service providers such as DCBS workers or Guardians ad Litem. They are assigned by judges to be the “eyes and ears” of the Court and to make recommendations on the best interest of the child. Although no special or legal background is required, volunteers are carefully screened and are very well trained, receiving a minimum 30 hours of initial training, court observation and case shadowing.
Definition of a CASA Volunteer
According to KRS 620.500 “CASA volunteer means a person who completes training through and is supervised by a CASA program and appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of dependent, abused or neglected children in court.”
Qualifications of a CASA Volunteer
A CASA volunteer must be at least 21 years of age, of good moral character and successfully complete a screening consisting of a written application, three written references, at least one “blind” reference, personal interview, a criminal record check and a child abuse and adult protection registry check, in order to be accepted into training. Training is approximately 30 hours and consists of class work and court and case observation. In addition to training, CASA volunteers take an oath of confidentiality.
Duties of a CASA Volunteer
According to KRS 620.525, the duties of a CASA volunteer are to:
- Attend all court hearings except that the CASA volunteer may be excused by the court or by the CASA staff if emergency circumstances arise;
- Submit a written report and recommendation to the judge for consideration in determining the best interest of the child at the dispositional hearing, dispositional review hearings, other hearings as requested by the court, and at least one (1) report every six (6) months for as long as the case assigned to a CASA volunteer;
- Monitor the case by visiting the child as often as necessary to observe whether the child’s essential needs are being met, and whether court orders are actually being carried out;
- Participate in any treatment planning conferences and reviews involving the child to assess whether reasonable efforts are being made to provide services to the child and family and determining the appropriateness and progress of the child’s permanent plan;
- Advocate a prompt, thorough review of the case if the child’s circumstances warrant the attention of the court;
- Interview parties involved in the case, including interviewing and observing the child;
- Maintain complete written records about the case;
- Report any incidents of the child or adult abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities and to CASA staff;
- Remain actively involved in the case until dismissed from the case by CASA staff or judge with competent jurisdiction, or when an adoption proceeding is finalized;
- Return all case-related materials including, but not limited to, written notes, court reports, and agency documents, to CASA staff upon the request of the Program Director or Volunteer Coordinator; and
- Work with Cabinet representatives to advocate the best interest of the child.
Although CASA volunteers work with others involved in the case, they remain independent.
Information Available to a CASA Volunteer
According to KRS 620.520:
- Upon appointment by the court to represent a child, the CASA volunteer shall have access to all information and records pertaining to the child, including but not limited to, the records of the following entities: the Cabinet for Families and Children, child-caring facilities operated by or licensed by the Cabinet; public and private schools; physical and mental health care providers; law enforcement agencies; and other entities deemed appropriate by the court.
- With court approval, the CASA volunteer may have access to information and records pertaining to the parents or person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child assigned to the CASA volunteer, information and records of the court; the Cabinet, public and private childcare facilities; private and public schools; and medical and psychological records of the child assigned to the volunteer. The volunteer shall have access to medical and psychological records of the parents when the court determines the information is essential to the welfare of the child and the court orders it.
CASA Volunteer’s Role in Treatment Planning
CASA volunteers are authorized to participate in treatment planning conferences and KRS 620.550 requires that the Cabinet notify the CASA volunteer and the CASA program when it schedules treatment planning conferences and reviews.
If you have any questions or would like additional information about CASA, please call 502-543-4554.