Court Appointed Special Advocate program of The Child Abuse Council
MISSION OF CASA
The mission of Muskegon CASA is to provide trained citizen volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused or neglected children involved in court proceedings.
WHAT IS A CASA AND WHAT IS THEIR ROLE?
A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a trained volunteer appointed by a Family Court judge of Muskegon County to act as an advocate for an abused or neglected child. A CASA volunteer is sworn in as an officer of the court. In order to fulfill their responsibility, a CASA becomes familiar with the circumstances surrounding the child's case, makes an independent evaluation of the child's best interest, and monitors the case until a permanent plan is approved by the court.
In addition, a CASA volunteer provides the court with carefully researched information about their assigned child's case. This information assists the court in making a sound decision about that child's future.
The CASA volunteer also makes recommendations to the court regarding placement of the child. Although CASAs are independent advocates, they work closely with social service case workers and the child's attorney to ensure that each child's voice is heard.
WHO MAY BECOME A CASA?
Any adult over 21 years of age who has the desire and time to help abused and neglected children may become a CASA. No specific education background is required, but necessary characteristics include:
- Sensitivity and awareness
- Good communication skills
- Willingness to accept responsibility
- Ability to accept training
- Understanding of confidentiality
- Independence and objectivity
- Ability to cooperate with others
HOW IS A CASA TRAINED?
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. Once accepted into the program, CASA volunteers undergo a 35 hour training course conducted by the local CASA program. Volunteers learn about the abuse and neglect legal process. Volunteers also receive training on the social service system and the special needs of children who have been abused and neglected as well as child sexual abuse, drugs and alcohol in the family, cultural diversity, and child development.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT REQUIRE?
CASA volunteers are assigned one case at a time and spend an average of ten to fifteen hours each month on their case. CASA volunteer involvement with a case can vary from a few months to well over a year. It is important for a CASA volunteer to make a commitment to work on a case until it is resolved.
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