What Is A Court Appointed Special Advocate?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer child advocate sworn in by the Family Court Judge to represent the best interest of children who are dependent, abused or neglected and are active cases in the Juvenile Court System. The CASA volunteer investigates the child’s circumstances, provides fact-based information and makes recommendations to the court while becoming a source of support for the child.
CASA program is independent, but works closely with the court, social workers, therapists, attorneys, care providers and other professionals involved in a child’s case. CASA volunteers work under the direct supervision of the CASA Program Director or Volunteer Coordinators to further the child’s welfare and to expedite the case through the system.
CASA volunteer’s ultimate goal is to move the child out of temporary placement, usually in the foster care system, into a safe and permanent home. This could mean return to the parent’s care, adoption, the appointment of a legal guardian, or some other permanent living arrangement that satisfies the court and fulfills the child’s needs.
Requirements To Be A Court Appointed Special Advocate:
- be 21 years of age
- Must successfully pass screening requirements, which include a written application, three reference checks with non-relatives, local, state and national criminal record checks, a National Sexual Offender Registry check, Child Abuse and Neglect Registry check, Adult Protection Registry check, verification of social security number, and personal interview.
- Must successfully complete initial training provided by the CASA Program, which is at least 30 hours. Any sessions missed must be made up by the applicant before being appointed to a case.
- Must attend three hours of court observation
- Must be accepted as a volunteer by the CASA Program Director and sworn in by the Family Court Judge.
- Must participate in ongoing training, a minimum of 12 hours annually
- Must accept supervision and seek feedback from the Program Director on a regular basis
- Must be able to keep information confidential and to work within established program guidelines
- KRS 620.505(7) which states: “Employees of the Cabinet shall not become volunteers or employees of the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program.”
Become a CASA Advocate
There are two ways to apply to be a CASA advocate: online or by paper.
A CASA advocate speaks on behalf of the child in the family court system and, in many cases, acts as their voice in the courtroom. Our primary focus is to ensure a safe and permanent home for the child.
The first step to being a CASA advocate is completing a 30-hour training series at our office in Madisonville. After being sworn in, advocates are qualified to be appointed to a case in the family court systems of Hopkins, Henderson, Webster, Union, Muhlenberg and Crittenden Counties (Generally the County in which you reside). Once appointed, they will interview everyone involved, including but not limited to the child, biological parents, foster parents, teachers, friends, doctors, therapists and relatives.
The CASA advocate uses the details obtained by their research to write reports sent to the judge, lawyers and social worker involved in the case. Judges value these reports as their eyes and ears on cases needing more attention than others. These reports provide information on critical cases that would not otherwise be available.
TIME COMMITMENT: CASA advocates should be able to commit to 6-10 hours a month for at least two years to the family to whom they are assigned.
TRAINING: The initial 30-hour training is held multiple times throughout the year. Additionally, CASA advocates are required to have 12 hours of continuing education per year. This requirement can be fulfilled by attending monthly CASA in-service trainings, reviewing approved books and videos or participating in outside training opportunities.
OTHER REQUIREMENTS: CASA Advocates must effectively communicate orally and in writing, pass criminal and CPS history background check, and be more than 21-years-old.
If you’d prefer a copy of the application to be mailed to you, call (270) 245-5112
If you fill out a hard copy, please mail it to the following address:
Madisonville, KY 42431