Decatur County CASA Advocate Job Description

Judy Turner

Judy Turner

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are trained community volunteers appointed by Judges to speak for the best interests of children who are brought before the court due to abuse or neglect.  A CASA is part of judicial proceedings and works alongside attorneys and social workers.  The volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, neighbors, school officials, doctors, and others involved in the child’s background who might have facts about the case.  The advocate reviews all facts about the case and all documents pertaining to the case.  He or she then submits a formal report to the court at each hearing or review.  The CASA continues to monitor the case to assure that the judicial and child welfare systems are moving ahead to secure a safe, permanent home for the child, and that court ordered services are provided to the child and family.  The CASA is an invaluable resource for the attorney for the child (Guardian ad Litem or GAL) and for the social worker in developing goals for permanency for the child and family.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must successfully complete screening requirements which  include a written application, personal interview, reference checks, and a criminal background investigation.
  • Must be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Must be able to respect and relate to people from various backgrounds in a variety of settings.
  • Must be able to deal with people who may be very emotional.
  • Must be able to maintain objectivity.
  • Must have a basic understanding of child development.
  • Must have a basic understanding of family relationships.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Respect every child’s inherent right to grow up with dignity in a safe environment that meets the child’s best interests
  • Ensure that the child’s best interests are represented at every stage of the case
  • Report any new incidents of child abuse or neglect to the CASA supervisor and appropriate authorities
  • Review records and interview appropriate parties involved in the case, including the child, to determine if a permanent plan has been created for the child and whether appropriate services, including reasonable efforts, are being provided to the child and family
  • Facilitate prompt, thorough reviews of the case
  • Attends all court hearings, foster care reviews, and all other meetings which pertain to the child or make arrangements with CASA staff to attend instead
  • Maintain complete records and documentation about the case, including appointments, interviews, and information gathered about the child
  • Submit recommendations concerning the case to the court in a written report
  • Make contact with CASA supervisors and other parties involved in the case, including the child, at least once every two weeks
  • Maintain complete confidentiality regarding information about the child as well as information regarding other parties involved in the case
  • Exhibit professionalism in behavior and appearance

A CASA should NOT:

  • Be related to any parties involved in a case assigned to him or her or employed in a position and/or agency that might result in a conflict of interest
  • Become inappropriately involved in the case by providing direct service delivery to any parties that could lead to a conflict of interest or liability
  • Cause a child or family to become dependent on the CASA volunteer for services that should be provided by other agencies or organizations.
  • Take a child home or shelter a child in your home.
  • Give legal advice or therapeutic counseling.
  • Make placement arrangements for the child.
  • Provide transportation to a child or family member.

Training:

  •  A CASA Advocate completes a minimum of 30 hours of initial training, which includes policies and procedures of the CASA program, Department of Children’s Services, and Juvenile Court; dynamics and human behavior associated with child abuse and neglect; relevant local, state and federal laws; permanency planning and family preservation; cultural diversity; communication and interviewing skills; and the roles and responsibilities of a CASA volunteer.  As part of their training, a CASA advocate also observes a court proceeding.
  • A CASA Advocate completes a minimum of twelve hours of in-service training each year, following their first year of service.

Supervision:

CASA Advocate are supervised by the Advocate Coordinator and the Executive Director.