Child Advocates of Silicon Valley is a member of the National CASA organization, a network of nearly 1,000 local community programs supporting children in the foster care system who have experienced abuse and neglect. Our volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are dedicated, trustworthy and compassionate people who are willing to serve as officers of the court and mentor a foster child in Santa Clara County. Hundreds of foster children are waiting for a CASA. If you think you might be interested in having a meaningful and substantive impact on the life of a child, read through the FAQ’s below.
Who Can Be a CASA Volunteer?
No special skills are required to be a CASA, but each CASA must have the desire and commitment to mentor a child who has experienced abuse or neglect. CASA’s must be at least 21 years old and pass a background check.
How much time is required?
Volunteers in the CASA Program generally see their youth 3-4 times per month, spending about 10 to 13 hours per month on volunteer responsibilities. Approximately twice a year, CASAs submit reports to the court and attend a court hearing regarding the child. In order to ensure stability and constancy for the children we serve, CASAs are asked for a commitment of 12 months with a child.
How do I begin?
Your first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend a Volunteer Info Session. This is your chance to learn more about the program, listen to CASAs speak about their experiences and have your questions answered.
What are the typical “month in the life” activities of a CASA Volunteer?
As a CASA, you could spend time on some of the following activities in a typical month:
- Talking with your advocate child, listening to his or her experiences and feelings.
- Spending time with your advocate child, participating in activities he or she enjoys.
- Reading and reviewing case files about your advocate child.
- Talking with your advocate child’s parents as well as teachers, social workers and attorneys who work with the child’s case.
- Working with social services or your child’s school to address a specific need.
- Talking with your CASA Supervisor to get help and guidance with any issues or questions you encounter while advocating for your child.
Can I choose my advocate child?
Cases are not randomly assigned to CASAs; rather, CASAs work with our staff to choose a case that is right for them. We will select cases for you to read based on your personal preferences, but the decision as to which case you take is ultimately up to you.
Do I receive training?
Yes. CASA trainees receive 30 hours (nine sessions) of initial training and 12 hours of additional training each year from professionals in the field of child welfare. You will learn about the child welfare system, how to work with children involved in the system, and other skills necessary to help your advocate child. CASA training sessions are held 5 times a year.
How can I decide if becoming a CASA is right for me?
Our Volunteer Info Session is offered once a month to provide detailed information to prospective volunteers. Attending one of these sessions gives you an opportunity to meet CASAs and hear their stories, and to ask questions of our volunteers and staff. There is no commitment involved in attending either of these events. For more information regarding our monthly Info Sessions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I have questions or need help once I become a CASA?
Each CASA is continuously supported by, and in contact with, one of our CASA Specialists or Mentors, who are trained professionals with considerable experience in all aspects of Child Advocacy. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.