What Is A CASA
CASA stands for “Court Appointed Special Advocate”.
CASA of Carson City advocates volunteer to "speak up" for children in First Judicial District of Nevada child welfare cases--Carson City and Storey County.
Children enter these cases when Nevada's Division of Child and Family Services has determined it is unsafe for the child to remain at home due to abuse or neglect.
The CASA advocate serves as "guardian ad litem" under NRS 432b.500
CASA of Carson City advocates receive training on court procedures, child development, domestic violence and other relevant subjects. Over time they gain a deep understanding of social problems and of children’s needs. Being a CASA advocate is interesting, demanding and rewarding. It involves research, documentation, communication and patience.
What are the duties of the volunteer?
In the child welfare system, people talk about the team approach to cases--the team being many people: CASA volunteer, parents, attorneys, social workers, therapists, judge, teachers, relatives, foster parents, etc..Of all these people, the CASA volunteer is the only one not providing a direct service. The CASA volunteer is the only one with the sole job of listening to everyone and advocating to the Court. The CASA volunteer meets with the parent and the social worker at child welfare offices at the beginning of the case and creates a report to the Court giving their view of the case plan--the to-do list for the parents so that they can get their child returned to them. The CASA volunteer talks to teachers,doctors and foster parents to see how the child is doing and advocates for educational and health services to be ordered by the Court. The CASA volunteer reports to the Court how the parent is doing on their case plan--their to-do list--and helps keep an eye on the child's safety and health. In the end, the CASA volunteer makes a recommendation as to whether they believe the child should be returned to the parent or go to adoption, guardianship or age out of the child welfare system at age 18. Our goal is a safe permanent home for the child.
What is the commitment in terms of hours and number of cases assigned? How long do you typically stay with a child?
Cases typically last about two years. Each CASA volunteer is assigned one or sometimes two cases--meaning the children in one family, That can be one to five children in a family. You need to be able to take some time during the work day for hearings and meetings. There is a flurry of activity at the beginning of the case. Then it settles down with periods of activity along the way. The time week by week is not great. What new CASA volunteers notice is not the amount of time in the week but the need to stay focused over the long-haul. We ask that CASA volunteers stay with the case until it is over. This helps provide consistency and follow-through for the child.
"Being a CASA will be a challenging and rewarding experience, while filling a vital need for the most innocent and defenseless members of our society, our children." David Nielsen, Special Master of the Carson City Juvenile Court