A person who is interested in helping others who have to go to court may wonder, “How do I become a CASA (court-appointed special advocate)?” Although each state’s process is a little different, there are some general steps that are true for most places. Understanding these steps and identifying what is required in a person’s state of residence could help an individual achieve this goal of helping others.
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General Requirements to be a CASA
Every state has a different requirement in order to become a CASA. Some general guidelines include passing a background check and being 21 years old or older. CASA volunteers should be available to attend court with advance notice. They should also be able to provide personal and professional references and meet with court personnel in an in-person interview. They should at least hold a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. A CASA should be committed to complete the program until they have at least one court case closed.
Training Hours and Time Commitments
Although each state’s training requirements and time commitments for CASAs are different, most of them require a mandatory training course. This course could be about 40 hours long. Volunteers should expect to have additional responsibilities related to the training, such as homework or reading to do at home. Most states also have a minimum required number of hours of court observations that a CASA must do. The total time commitment after training differs by state, with most CASAs needing to commit to 10 to 20 hours per month for 12 to 24 months in the county court system.
Experience and In-court Training for a CASA
Under the direction of a CASA supervisor, the CASA would attend court meetings and participate in discussions with the child. This sort of on-the-job training could take place over a period of several months. After the training period, the CASA will be assigned to work with one child or a sibling group. Once they have been assigned a child or group of siblings, the CASA will only work with that one child or sibling group until their experience in court is finished or until the CASA resigns from the volunteer position, explains the Denver Court Appointed Special Advocates for children nonprofit organization.
What a CASA Can Do
What a CASA can do varies by state. In general, a CASA is able to assist one child or a group of siblings. They can act as a voice for the child in court and in meetings with attorneys. The CASA explains the court process to the child using words that the child can understand. They also attend and document what happens in court. The CASA volunteer also meets with the child or siblings once or twice each month outside of the courtroom.
Understanding how to become a CASA could help a person achieve their goal of helping others in court and other settings. The process requires some time, but the results can be personally rewarding when the volunteer sees how children benefit from having the assistance. Knowing the answer to the question of, “How do I become a CASA?” allows a person to start making plans and taking action to help youngsters who have been abused or neglected.