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17724 Interstate 30, Benton, Arkansas 72019, United States
Monday - Thursday: 9:00am - 2:00pm
Friday - Sunday: Closed
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by a CASA include those from whom home placement is being determined in juvenile court. Most of the children are victims of abuse and neglect.
A CASA volunteer provides a judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future. The CASA volunteer recommends placement to the judge and follows through on the case until it is permanently resolved.
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, parent, family member, social workers, school officials, health providers, and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records about the child-school, medical, casework reports, and other documents.
Social workers generally are employed by state governments. They sometimes work on as many as 60 to 90 cases at a time and are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each case. The CASA is a volunteer with more time and a smaller caseload (an average of 1-2 cases at a time). The CASA does not replace a social worker on a case; they are an independent court appointee. The CASA volunteer can thoroughly examine a child’s case, knows community resources, and recommend to the court independent of the state agency restrictions.
The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom. That is the role of the Attorney Ad Litem. However, the CASA volunteer does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases. It is important to remember that CASA volunteers do not represent the child’s wishes in court. Instead, they speak in the child’s best interest.
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, with various professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. There are more than 42,000 CASAs nationally. Local programs vary in the number of volunteers they utilize. Aside from their CASA work, 52% are employed in regular full-time jobs; most are professionals. 82% of the volunteers nationwide are women; 18% are men.
CASAs offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They explain to the child the events, the reasons they are in court, and the roles the judge, lawyers, and social workers play. CASAs also encourage the child to express their own opinion and hopes while remaining objective observers.
Yes. Juvenile and Family Court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the US Department of Justice.
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer spends many hours researching and conducting interviews before their first court appearance. More complicated cases or cases involving multiple children take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work about 10-15
hours a month.
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