Who Can Be a Volunteer?
You do not have to be a lawyer or a social worker to be a volunteer. We welcome people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.
You must pass a background check, participate in a 30+hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average).
How much time does it take to be a CASA volunteer?
All volunteers must complete a 30+hour pre-service training. The time commitment to a case varies depending upon the stage of the case. Volunteers sometimes say that there is a greater amount of work in the beginning of the case, when they are conducting their initial research. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 10-15 hours a month on a case. We also require volunteers to complete 12 hours of continuing education/in-service training each year. This can be accomplished through CASA hosted training workshops, books, videos, podcasts, seminars, or conferences.
Do I need to make a long-term commitment to the program?
We ask that a volunteer commit to serve for one year or the length of their first case (on average about a year and a half). Because the need in our area is high, we hope our volunteers will stay much longer.
Do I need to have any special skills or meet any requirements?
No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. We encourage people from all cultures and professions, and of all ethnic and educational backgrounds. Once accepted into the program, you will receive all necessary training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system and the special needs of abused and neglected children.
- Be 21 years old
- Have at least a high school diploma or GED
- Be willing to complete necessary background checks, provide references and participate in a phone interview and in-person interview
- Complete our 30+ hour pre-service training course
- Have strong verbal and written communication skills
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Provide your own transportation
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed
- Cannot be a party to any case in any J&DR court of the 24th Judicial District (Lynchburg, Campbell, Bedford, Amherst or Nelson courts). If you have a conflict within that specific district, you may elect to serve as a volunteer in Appomattox County.
Exactly what does a CASA volunteer do?
CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act.
Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child's life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
- Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
- Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.
- Appear in court: Advocate for the child's best interests and provide testimony when necessary.
- Explain what is going on: Help the child understand the court proceedings.
- "Be the glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives. As one volunteer said: Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
- Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their family are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child's health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals.
- Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held.
- Report suspected abuse: CASA volunteers are, per the code of Virginia, mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect.
What sort of support will I receive?
You will be supported every step of the way. You will have opportunities for continuing education via workshops, online resources provided by our program as well as the National CASA Association, a resource library, local and national Facebook community, and state and national conferences. You will also be assigned to one of our professional staff members who will attend court with you, review your court reports, and provide guidance along the way.
Are there other ways I can volunteer?
Yes, we are always looking for special event volunteers, committee members, and other volunteers. Click here for more information.