Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CASA Volunteer? 
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained citizen volunteer who is sworn in as a “friend of the Court” and is appointed by the Judge, at his/her discretion, to represent the best interest of a child who is under a CHIPS (Children in Need of Protection and Services) Court Order. A CASA volunteer is trained, assigned to a case, and supervised by CASA of Rock County program staff.
What is a CASA Volunteer’s role? 
A CASA volunteer provides the Judge with background information about the child to help the Court make sound decisions about the child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child involved. The CASA volunteer visits weekly with the child, in various locations such as the child’s school, home, or foster home, to make sure the child is safe, to ensure compliance with the Court’s orders, and to determine whether the child is getting the services he/she needs. Based on these visits, the volunteer prepares a monthly written report to the Court summarizing the volunteer’s observations, concerns, and recommendations, as well as the expressed wishes, hopes, and opinions of the child. A CASA volunteer does not make case decisions. A CASA volunteer provides information with regards to his/her findings to the decision-makers (i.e. Judge, case worker) for consideration.
How does the Volunteer get information about the case? 
In addition to speaking with the child, the CASA volunteer talks with parents, foster parents, other family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who may have pertinent knowledge about the child. The CASA volunteer also reviews records pertaining to the child, such as school, medical and caseworker reports and other documents.
Does a CASA Volunteer have the legal right to do these things?
Yes. There are Wisconsin Statutes that dictate the role and give the volunteer the legal right to act within that role. Once the Judge has appointed a CASA volunteer to serve on a case, the CASA volunteer may request that parent(s) or legal guardian(s) sign an Authorization for Release of Information, as these consents are required for other service providers to share verbal and written information with the CASA volunteer. 
How long does the CASA Volunteer remain involved in the case? 
Typically, a CASA volunteer remains involved in the case from the time of appointment by the Court and assignment by CASA Program Staff until the case is permanently resolved. On some occasions, the CASA volunteer may be released from his/her responsibilities prior to Court closure of the case. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that unlike other service providers who often rotate cases, a CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child.
How does a CASA Volunteer differ from a Child Protective Services (CPS) Social/Case Worker? 
The CPS worker is an employee of the county who is a party in the case (legally represented and advised by a county attorney - Corporate Counsel) and is responsible for providing case management services to many families at one time. The CASA volunteer is not paid, is not a party in a case, and is assigned to one child or sibling group at a time. A CASA volunteer doesn’t replace the CPS Caseworker, rather the CASA volunteer acts as an objective third-party who is appointed by the court. CASA volunteers are able to thoroughly examine the child’s case and write reports to the Court independent of state agency restrictions.
 
 How does a CASA Volunteer differ from the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)? 
The GAL is an attorney appointed by the Court, as a party in the case, to legally represent the best interest of the child. A CASA volunteer is not a party in the case, doesn’t represent the child legally in the courtroom, and is not able to call witnesses to testify. However, the GAL does have access to the CASA volunteer reports, which provide crucial background information that may assist the GAL in presenting the case to the Court.

Are there any other agencies or groups that provide the same service? 
No. There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child’s best interest.

Who Can Be A Volunteer

Primary qualifications for eligibility to perform the role of a CASA Volunteer:

1. Must be 21 years of age or older.
2. Must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
3. Must pass all screening procedures including, but not limited to: a written application, personal interview, reference and criminal records checks.
4. Must have sufficient time available and be able to commit to a minimum of one year of service.
5. Must complete 30 hours of initial volunteer training.
6. Must demonstrate a primary commitment to the best interest of children.
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