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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CASA volunteer?

A CASA volunteer is an ordinary person who does extraordinary work for children. They are independent advocates appointed by a judge to speak for an abused or neglected child’s best interests. They come from all walks of life.

What does a CASA volunteer do?

A CASA volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched information about the child to help the court make sound decisions about the child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child involved.

The CASA volunteer makes recommendations concerning the child’s needs, temporary placement and appropriate services. About whether the child should be returned to his/her parents or freed for adoption. The CASA volunteer remains on the case until permanency is achieved for the child.

How are CASA volunteers different from a social worker?

Social workers are employed by the state and are often assigned too many cases at a time. The social worker is responsible for the entire family, which includes setting up individual services for family members.

A CASA volunteer is an advocate for the child, is not paid, works with only one or two cases at a time and does not set up services. The CASA volunteer does not replace the social worker on a case; he or she is an independent officer of the court and works within the child welfare system to advocate for what is in the best interest of the children.

How does a CASA volunteer investigate a case?

To prepare recommendations, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, foster care workers, school officials, health providers, and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child – school, medical, and caseworker reports and other documents.

Do CASA volunteers have training?

Yes, at least 30 hours initially and 12 hours a year after that. Training must include roles and responsibilities of the CASA volunteer. Training covers various issues including:

  • Juvenile court process
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Michigan law and federal law
  • Confidentiality and record keeping
  • Child development
  • Permanency planning
  • Community agencies and resources
  • Communication and information gathering
  • Advocacy and cultural competence

Are volunteers screened?

Yes, each volunteer must submit a written application; submit to reference checks, a criminal background check, Central Child Abuse Registry check and a personal interview.

Do volunteers have to keep confidentiality?

Yes. Confidentiality is a part of our National and State Standards for volunteers and discussed

extensively in training. In addition, each volunteer is sworn in as an officer of the court.

How many cases on average does a CASA volunteer carry at a time?

The number varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but an average is 1 to 2 cases.

How do I find out more about LACASA-CASA?

Contact Sara A. Applegate, LACASA’s Program Supervisor of CASA of Livingston County, by calling 517-548-1350, or email her at: sapplegate@lacasacenter.org

LACASA Staff Insight
LACASA Staff

Why Children Don’t Tell: Sandusky case sheds light on complexities of child sexual abuse

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is updated regularly in the footnote section, which provides links to ongoing news about the Penn State Scandal and its aftermath. By Robin L. O’Grady with Nicole Matthews-Creech The conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky captured the nation’s attention and cast a spotlight on an endless question: […]

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