Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CASA/Guardian ad Litem Volunteer?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen appointed as the Guardian ad Litem (GAL or “guardian of the case”) by a Family Court judge to represent a child victim in cases of abuse and neglect. Simply put, CASA volunteers serve as GALs in child abuse and neglect cases.
What is a CASA volunteer’s role?
A CASA’s role in abuse and neglect proceedings is to present the court with a unique “child-centered” perspective regarding what is in the best interest of the child. The CASA monitors the case and works to ensure that progress is being made and timelines are being adhered to.
How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved with a case?
CASA volunteers are asked to make a commitment to stay with each case they assume until the case closes — typically, around 24 months. Sometimes cases close sooner; sometimes they continue for several years. It’s impossible to predict at the onset how long a case will be active.
How many children does CASA of NH serve?
In 2011, CASA of NH represented over 1,130 victimized children, taking 80% of the cases we were offered; our goal is to be able to serve 100% of them. Since 1989, CASA of NH has served over 7,800 children in District and Family Courts.
What training does a CASA volunteer receive?
Each CASA volunteer must complete a comprehensive 40-hour pre-service training. The curriculum is designed to inform volunteers about courtroom procedures, the dynamics of abuse and neglect, cultural differences, child development and effective advocacy techniques. Professionals from social service agencies, lawyers and judges participate with the CASA staff to share their expertise. Ongoing training, workshops, and support groups keep CASAs well-informed. View our 2014 training schedule here.
Is there a “typical” CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. There are over 400 CASA volunteers who include computer technicians, retired executives, writers, students, educators, air traffic controllers, realtors, health care professionals, mothers, fathers, and grandparents.
How much time does it require?
CASAs spend an average of 10 to 15 hours per month on each case. However, cases that are more complex may require more time researching and conducting interviews with involved parties. Also, the first 2 to 3 months of a case tend to be more time-intensive, due to the volume of the initial information received, visits to make, contacts to be made, and hearings to attend.
How many cases on average does a CASA volunteer carry at a time?
CASA volunteers begin with just one case. Once that case is underway, the volunteer can be assigned to an additional case if they have the time.
How does a CASA research the case?
To prepare their recommendations for the court, CASA volunteers talk regularly with the parents and other family members, social workers, school officials, healthcare providers, and all others involved in the child’s life. Most importantly, CASAs visit with the child(ren) at least once each month in order to gain a full understanding of the situation. Many volunteers find it helpful to visit more often, especially when dealing with teens.
How does the CASA volunteer relate to the child he or she represents?
CASA volunteers offer children a source of stability and trust during complex legal proceedings. They often explain to the child the meaning of the events and the role of all the involved parties. While remaining objective, CASA volunteers also encourage the child to express his or her own opinions, feelings, and dreams. CASA volunteers who advocate for teens also help that child gain the skills necessary for independent living.
How effective is the CASA program?
Judges throughout New Hampshire have noted the value of the information that CASA brings to the proceedings and are appreciative of the unique and unbiased perspective presented by CASAs. In addition, national studies show that a child who has been assigned a CASA volunteer spends less time in court and less time in foster care than those who do not have CASA representation.
Will I get reimbursed for mileage or other expenses?
CASA volunteers can log a lot of miles in their monthly visits and court appearances. However, as a not-for-profit organization, CASA is not in a position to reimburse for those miles. Many volunteers track their mileage and other expenses (phone calls, postage) and use it as a tax write-off at year end.
Are there other ways to help CASA besides being a CASA?
Yes! Being a CASA is not possible for everyone. We also seek individuals and corporations who wish to help underwrite the organization, or sponsor an event. There are also a number of committees to join, or you can volunteer as a receptionist in the office. Or, simply, help spread the word about the great work CASA does for New Hampshire’s children! more…
How do I apply to become a CASA/GAL?
To get the process started, the first step is to send in an application.
How do I get more information on becoming a CASA/GAL volunteer?
Contact us at one of our New Hampshire offices or request information by e-mail.