What is CASA?
CASA of Baltimore County is Baltimore County's Court Appointed Special Advocate program for children. CASA of Baltimore County is part of the National and Maryland CASA Associations. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to represent the best interests of children and report their findings to the Baltimore County Court system. Since July 2001, CASA has recruited and trained volunteers for over 700 children in the foster care system.
What is a CASA Volunteer?
A CASA is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Volunteers must first receive 33 hours of training and go through an extensive screening process before being assigned to a child's case. All volunteers receive supervision and support from staff at CASA of Baltimore County.
What is the CASA Volunteer's Role?
A CASA volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched information about a child's background, schooling, medical care and current living situation to help the court make sound decisions about the child's future. The CASA volunteer must determine what is in the best interest of the child. The volunteer makes recommendations for what placements and services a child may need through written and oral reports to the court. The CASA is an advocate beyond the court, participating in school meetings and speaking with doctor, therapists and other invested parties. The CASA volunteer continues to update the court with information about the child as needed during the life of the case.
How does a CASA Volunteer Investigate a Case?
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, parents and family members, caregivers, social workers, case managers, school officials, health providers and others that are knowledgeable about the child. The CASA volunteer is appointed to the case by a court order issued by the juvenile court. The court order gives the CASA access to all records pertaining to the child. This includes access to all medical, therapeutic and educational reports and records.
How does a CASA Volunteer differ from a case worker?
Social workers are employed by the state and handle many cases at one time. The CASA is an individual volunteer assigned to just one case or sibling group, and therefore, has more time to devote to each case. The CASA does not replace the role of the worker on the case, but is an independent appointee of the court who is responsible for making an independent recommendation to the court.
How is the role of the CASA different from an attorney?
The CASA does not provide legal representation in the courtroom. The CASA does provide important background information that can assist the child's attorney. The CASA represents the best interests of the child, not the child's wishes.
How long is the CASA Volunteer involved in a case?
Volunteers are asked to make a commitment of at least one year of service. However, cases may take longer than a year to be resolved, and it is hoped that volunteers can continue with cases until there is some type of resolution. The ultimate goal is for each child to have a safe and permanent home.
Is there a typical CASA Volunteer?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of cultural, professional and educational backgrounds. This is part of the beauty of the CASA program: lay people giving the courts the benefits of their wisdom and insights based on their observations. A CASA volunteer must be at least 21 years of age.
How is CASA of Baltimore County, Inc. funded?
CASA of Baltimore County is funded through a combination of government and foundation grants, individual and corporate donations, and fundraising efforts.