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CASA FAQ

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CASA FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers are everyday citizen volunteers appointed by a judge to speak up for abused and neglected children to ensure they have a safe and permanent home.

The CASA volunteer that is appointed in some dependency cases:

Is a specially-trained volunteer

CASAs are volunteers from the community. Each CASA volunteer is interviewed, fingerprinted, trained, and certified before they are appointed to a case by the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court.

Is appointed by the Judge to be the “eyes and ears” of the Court

A CASA is yet another voice for the child – another person making recommendations to the judge about what he or she thinks is in the child’s best interests. The judge does not have to do what the CASA recommends, but the judge will take the recommendations very seriously.

Makes recommendations to the Court about the best interests of the child

After the CASA has gathered information about the case, they prepare a report for the Court that states their recommendation.

Forms a relationship with the child, but also gets to know the parents, placement, family, teachers, and many others who know the child

Another role of the CASA is to develop a relationship with the children, built on consistent contact and trust. This relationship is intended to support the children while the family is involved with the Court.

Investigates, reports, and attends meetings, Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) reviews, and hearings

The CASA attends all meetings relating to the case. This includes attending FCRB and DCS case staffings. The CASA may also attend court hearings. The CASA is encouraged to have contact with all other parties involved in the case.

All advocates complete 30 hours of training. During training, advocates are educated about child welfare issues from experts in the field including child maltreatment, permanency planning, negotation and interviewing, case assessment, court report writing, and court policies. In many parts of the state, blended learning, partially in person and partially online, is an option. Ongoing in-service training and support are provided in every county program, including opportunities for online training.

No specific educational background, profession, or experience is required. CASA advocates are dedicated individuals of high moral character who have a strong desire to advocate for abused and neglected children. Interested individuals must complete an application, provide references, be interviewed, be fingerprinted, and go through a background check.

Each case is unique. More time must be spent in the beginning, researching files, reviewing court documents, and conducting interviews. CASA advocates schedule their own time, with the exception of required attendance at court hearings and team meetings. Once familiar with the case and the parties involved, a CASA advocate spends an average of 15-20 hours a month working on the case. Many CASA advocates balance full-time or part-time employment with their CASA duties.

The advocate continues with the case until it is permanently resolved. We ask that advocates commit to volunteering for at least a two-year period. Often children are moved from one foster care home to another. That means there can be a frequent change of case specialist, judges, and hearing officers. One of the primary benefits of an advocate is to be the one consistent person there for the child throughout the entire process.

Once appointed, the CASA advocate becomes part of the judicial proceedings and works alongside attorneys and case managers as an appointed officer of the court. Unlike attorneys and social workers, however, the CASA advocate speaks exclusively for the child's best interest.

In Arizona, the CASA program receives 30 percent of unclaimed state lottery prize money pursuant to A.R.S. §§ 5-568 and 8-524. Funds are appropriated annually by the Arizona State Legislature. The Arizona Supreme Court's CASA of Arizona Office administers fifteen county CASA programs which are supervised and operated locally by Arizona's county-specific based Superior Court.

Due to a shortage of CASA volunteers, there are thousands of children in foster care who are still waiting for a CASA volunteer. The Court or any person or agency having knowledge of the facts of a dependency case can contact the local CASA program to request an advocate. Appointment is made by the local County CASA program.