Do something extraordinary! Help change the life of a child by becoming a CASA volunteer or donating to the organization!
- What do I do if I want to volunteer for CASA of Baltimore?
- How do CASA Volunteers make a difference?
- What kind of time commitment and length of service is required to be a CASA Volunteer?
- Can I work full-time, have a family and still be a CASA volunteer?
- How does the CASA Volunteer know what to do?
- Does the CASA Volunteer act as an Attorney or a Caseworker for the child?
- Can anyone volunteer to be a CASA?
- What is a CASA Volunteer?
- Who are the children CASA of Baltimore serves?
All potential CASA Volunteers are required to attend an Information Session that provides information about the CASA mission, program and the screening and training process. Information Sessions are conducted monthly at various locations around the City. See Calendar of Events or Volunteer for more information.
Study after study indicates that without appropriate intervention, abused and neglected children are much more vulnerable than their peers to drug abuse, teen pregnancy, mental illness, homelessness, unemployment and crime. The Honorable William A. Thorne Jr., Utah Court of Appeals, who served on the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, has stated that “…a CASA volunteer can be an invaluable part of correctly identifying the problem and correctly identifying the solutions…we need the fresh perspective a CASA volunteer can bring”. In 2005, The National CASA Association engaged Organizational Research Services to conduct a national survey of Family Court Judges. Overall, 550 Judges agreed that the work of CASA Volunteers is “high quality, beneficial to judicial decision-making and beneficial to the children and families served.” The Judges also reported that CASA Volunteers’ activities have been “very useful” in their decisions about case outcomes and “very effective” in activities that support Court processes. They find Volunteers “most effective” in considering the best interests of the child and in monitoring the case.
There is a great deal of variance in the length of time in which a child’s case may be in the Court system and a CASA Volunteer may serve. Many children are involved in the child welfare system for several years and many CASA volunteers serve for several years. Volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment to advocate on behalf of a child of one-year. Volunteers spend an average of 10-12 hours a month in their work as a CASA.
Yes! The majority of our current CASA Volunteers are employed on a full-time basis. Though it is helpful if your job offers some flexibility with your schedule, it is not required.
CASA of Baltimore provides a 30 - hour training program and additional training time is spent in observing and shadowing CASA staff in the Courthouse. CASA of Baltimore training classes are offered 5-6 times a year, most often in the evening at the CASA of Baltimore office. This mandatory training prior to being assigned to a child’s case helps the volunteer to understand the roles and responsibilities of the CASA, the Court and child welfare system, and families and children’s issues. Training will also provide the Volunteer with information gathering, communication and court report writing skills, and many other things to prepare for the work. Once screening and training are complete the CASA Volunteer will be assigned to a child and a CASA Supervisor from whom the volunteer will receive guidance, advice, a car insurance quote, support and on-going monitoring. At least 12 - hours of in-service training opportunities are provided each year to increase volunteers’ knowledge and skills.
CASA Volunteers do not replace a caseworker or an attorney. The CASA does not provide legal counsel. The CASA volunteer does not provide case management or any therapeutic or family services. The child is appointed an attorney who represents what the child wants in Court. The caseworker is employed by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services and oversees many children who are in foster care. The CASA Volunteer is assigned to one child and supports and advocates for what is best for that assigned child.
CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life and may be people with no special background in law or social services. What all our Volunteers have in common is the desire to make a difference for children in Baltimore City. All CASA Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age. All Volunteers must participate in screening so CASA of Baltimore can ensure that the people who volunteer are appropriate to work with children, objective, and committed.
The essential role of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer, who is appointed by the Juvenile Court in Baltimore City, is to advocate for the best interests of their child clients. The Volunteer is typically assigned to one child, establishes a relationship, visits the child wherever the child lives, is given the authority by the Court to review records, interview parents, foster parents, teachers, social workers, attorneys, relatives and other people relevant in the child’s life and thus, becomes informed of the issues that must be addressed and identifies needs each child has that are not served. Armed with this unique relationship and information, the CASA Volunteer provides information and recommendations to the Court in the form of a written report and attends each Court hearing. The Volunteer advocates for permanency, safety, and any services that child needs.
Children served by CASA of Baltimore are children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parent(s) and are in need of assistance. Most of these children have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care or the care of a relative. They may range in age from newborn to 21 years old. There are approximately 6,000 children in foster care in Baltimore City – about 70% of the children in the child welfare system in the State. In Baltimore City, the majority of children in the child welfare system are African American, many entering the system as a result of maltreatment caused by parental substance abuse. These children are likely to move from one foster family to another, from one unfamiliar neighborhood to another and one school to another. The children are often confused, rootless and likely very angry and they deserve what you would want for your own children, or other children you know personally…they deserve the stability and opportunity that comes with a safe and caring, permanent home.