What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is an individual who is committed to providing factual information about the situation of an abused or neglected child. The information and recommendations the CASA provides to the Court assist the court in making crucial decisions about a child’s future. Capital City CASAs represent the diverse communities found within Cole County, Missouri. CASAs come from all professions, races, ethnicities and social and economic backgrounds. CASAs must be at least 21 years old.
what do CASAs commit to do?
- They successfully complete a 30 hour training and are sworn in by the Judge as an officer of the court.
- Commit to serving 12-18 months as a CASA.
- Accept assignment to a child or sibling group’s case and actively advocate on behalf of the child(ren).
- Work closely with their CASA staff, which provides direction and supervision on the cases.
- Spend approximately 10-15 hours a month on a case gathering information from visiting with the child(ren) and those adults who impact the child(ren).
- CASAs need some flexibility during the day in order to be present and effective at court hearings, as well as at other meetings that are held between court dates. The time will vary depending on the status of the case. Court hearings typically occur in 6-week cycles, but may vary depending on the complexity of the case.
- Attend 12 hours of in-service training per year.
how are CASAs effective?
- By actively monitoring the child’s case as it progresses through the court system to ensure that the child’s best interests are being met and that the necessary services are provided.
- By gathering information and conducting an independent investigation about the family’s situation.
- By observing family and sibling visits.
- By making recommendation to the court regarding the child’s best interest.
- By submitting computer generated reports to the Court and involved parties at each hearing.
- By being present at all court hearings and when requested by the Judge, providing oral testimony.
- By being present at other meetings that affect the child(ren)’s best interest between court dates.
- By communicating with the child(ren), parents, other family members, and professionals using concern, tact and basic communication skills.
- By respecting and relating to people from various social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds in a variety of settings.
- By maintaining accurate records and objectivity.
- By remaining in close communication with their CASA staff.
- By having a flexible personal and professional schedule in order to accommodate court dates and meetings.
- By having a telephone equipped with a voicemail or an answering machine.