CASA Home

Volunteer

Frequently Asked Questions

CASA Application

FacebookTwitterYOUTUBE

Frequently Asked Questions

WHY are CASA Volunteers Needed?

How Did CASA GET Started In Iowa?

How Do The Children Benefit By Having A CASA?

Who ARE CASA Volunteers & How Are They Trained?

What Do CASA Volunteers Do?

How much time does a CASA spend on their case?

How much help does a CASA receive in writing their reports?

What kinds of things do CASAs do to perform their own independent investigation?

How much time do CASAs actually spend in the Courtroom?

How is being a CASA different from being a Big Brother/ Big Sister or a mentor for a child?

Does the Judge really pay attention to what a CASA has to say?

In the long run, do CASAs really make a difference?

Which counties in North Iowa are served by the North Iowa CASA program?

What are the most important qualities you look for in a person seeking to become a CASA volunteer?


Annette Shultz, Retired school teacher CASA volunteer. - "You start out to change a child's life. And you find you've also changed your own."
WHY ARE CASA VOLUNTEERS NEEDED? - Child abuse and neglect is a critical problem in Iowa. Children are suffering at the hands of the very people they trust to protect them - their parents and caretakers. Consider these cases:

An infant is beaten by her father because of her incessant crying. She suffers more than three dozen fractures.

A two year old child is left alone and unsupervised while his mother goes on drinking binges.

A four year old is systematically beaten and tortured by his mother's boyfriend because he is "disobedient" He suffers irreparable brain damage.

Reports of child abuse and neglect continue and more children are entering the court system as children in need of assistance (CINA). All professionals involved - court officers, attorneys, judges and social workers - have less and less time to spend on each child's case.

Dennis Scudder, AEA267 Business Manager CASA Volunteer. "I can speak powerfully for these children."

How Did CASA Get Started In Iowa?

The Iowa CASA Program began operations in 1986, under the auspices of the Iowa Supreme Court. It is funded by the State of Iowa with additional support from private donations. Jurisdiction is in all 99 counties in Iowa.

Program Coordinators oversee the local programs by recruiting, training, and supervising CASA volunteers as they advocate for the children to whom they are assigned. The Iowa CASA Program is appointed to specific cases of child abuse/neglect that have been designated as needing additional information and monitoring by the presiding judge.

Top

How Do The Children Benefit By Having A CASA?


Faith and Austin Rogers,
Public Health and Miller
CASA Volunteers.
"Every child deserves a voice. Especially in court."
The CASA volunteer has one case at a time (compared to dozens for each social worker or attorney) and can offer concentrated attention in a way that others are unable due to their increasing caseloads.

The CASA is responsible only to the judge. The CASA acts as the "eyes and ears" of the judge--obtaining additional information about the child.

CASAs keep the child's best interest as their focus, and always maintain their objectivity about the situation. The CASA Program is independent of Juvenile Court and the Department of Human Services. Recommendations made on behalf of the child's best interest are the CASA's own--they do not have to mirror those of any other professional on the case. The judge expects the CASA's report to be an independent and objective assessment of the child's situation.

Top

Who ARE CASA Volunteers And How Are They Trained?

CASAs are ordinary citizens from all walks of life. We welcome adult volunteers, from all cultures, professions, and ethnic and educational backgrounds. The basic requirement for being selected as a CASA is to be a committed, caring adult who can think independently, use good judgement in difficult situations, and communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.

Volunteers must also have time to give to the program and a daytime schedule that allows some flexiblity. All applicants are required to submit to an intensive screening process, and agree to a criminal history check of their background. References must also be provided.

After passing the screening requirements, each volunteer will complete the mandatory Pre-Service Training class, which consists of 30 hours of instruction in the child welfare system, juvenile law and legal procedures, child abuse and neglect dynamics, interviewing and report writing techniques, advocacy skills, and permanency issues for children. A one-year commitment to CASA is expected or until the child's case has been officially closed by the Court.

Top

What Do CASA Volunteers Do?

The CASA volunteer has an important responsibility - to advocate for the best interest of an abused/neglected child. Their role is comprised of basically three tasks:
  1. Assess the case. This includes interviewing individuals who know about the child's life and reviewing case documents.
  2. Report to the Court. The CASA prepares a written report for each court hearing outlining the findings and facts of their assessment of the case, and providing recommendations which reflect what the CASA believes is in the child's best interest.
  3. Monitor the case after the judge's decision, to determine if services are being provided/complied with, and to advise the Court if problems or concerns develop that need further court review.
This program demands a dedicated degree of commitment from its volunteers. Being a child's voice in court, by becoming a CASA can offer a child a much better chance of achieving a safe and permanent placement by preventing them from "falling through the cracks" in an overburdened child welfare system

Top

How much time does a CASA usually spend on their case?

CASA volunteers average between 7 - 10 hours per month working on their case. This varies considerably depending on the complexity of the case and the number of children in the sibling group. Initially, when first assigned their case, the CASA will spend more time while making their initial contacts and reviewing the records. Extra time is also spent in the month prior to the hearing, when the CASA is preparing their report to the Court

Top

How much help does a CASA receive in writing their reports?

Although the content of the CASA report is based solely on the CASA's own independent investigation, the CASA staff assists by providing the proper format, editing, consulting and distributing.

Top

What kinds of things do CASAs do to perform their own independent investigation?

CASAs have access to all records pertaining to the child they are assigned, including court files, state agency (DHS) files, school records and medical records. So the CASA thoroughly researches these records and conducts in-person interviews with any person they identify as having knowledge about the child's life, such as parents, foster parents, teachers, therapists, social workers, doctors, extended family, child care providers and neighbors. Based on this thorough investigation, the CASA writes a report concluding with their recommendations to the Court.

Top

How much time do CASAs actually spend in the Courtroom?

CASA volunteers are expected to attend every hearing scheduled regarding the child they are assigned to answer questions about their report and to make sure important aspects about the child are not overlooked. These hearings are scheduled approximately every 3 to 6 months. CASAs are occasionally called to testify in court. However, the majority of the time a CASA spends on their assigned case is outside the courtroom, visiting the child regularly, interviewing others who are familiar with the child, especially their families and attending meetings with professionals such as social workers, therapists and teachers to advocate for the child's best interest.

Top

How is being a CASA different from being a Big Brother/ Big Sister or a mentor for a child?

Because of the importance of maintaining an objective perspective, CASA volunteers do not fill the same role as a mentor for a child. Although the CASA spends considerable time getting to know the child and his or her needs, the CASA does not become socially involved in the child's life. The CASA does not provide gifts to the child or the family, nor does the CASA advise or counsel the child or the family. If the CASA recognizes the need for a mentor in a child's life, a recommendation can be made by the CASA to meet this need.

Top

Does the Judge pay attention to what a CASA says?

Absolutely! The judge appoints a CASA on cases that he or she feels he needs more information in order to make well informed decisions about a child's living arrangements and services to the family. The CASA is often viewed as the "expert" on their case because they are able to spend extra time becoming thoroughly familiar with the child and the family situation. The judge values the well researched, objective, common sense perspective that the CASA volunteer can provide.

Top

In the long run, do CASAs really make a difference?

Yes. Studies have shown that children in foster care who have a CASA assigned to them, spend less time in temporary care than those without a CASA. They find a permanent home more quickly allowing them to get on with their lives and develop to their full potential. The impact of permanency and stability on children greatly affects their ability to develop emotionally. Because of recent cuts in governmental budgets, State Social Workers are carrying overwhelmingly high caseloads. Most are appreciative of the extra time a CASA volunteer can devote to helping insure that an abused or neglected child is not further victimized by either their family or the very system devised to protect the child. Community volunteers, serving as CASAs, also help their communities become better informed about child abuse and neglect issues close to home. CASAs can advocate not only for the child they are assigned to, but also for all families by identifying needs in the community that are not being met.

Top

Which counties in North Iowa are served by the North Iowa CASA program?

Bremer, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Mitchell, Winnebago and Worth counties are served by the North Iowa CASA program. Applications are now being accepted from persons in all 9 counties who are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer.

Top

What are the most important qualities you look for in a person seeking to become a CASA volunteer?

Committed, caring, confident, responsible, objective, open minded, independent, compassionate, good communication skills, assertive, patient yet persistent, perceptive, thorough, mature, reliable, a genuine interest in the welfare of children and a flexible daytime schedule. If this sounds like you , please apply!

Top



CASA Volunteers Make a Lifelong Difference for a Child.

Video
For more detailed information about CASA visit the link below.

National CASA

Important Links

Iowa Child Advocacy Board