What is a CASA?
A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
CASA volunteers are caring and motivated people in the community who enjoy helping kids navigate through the court system. Surprisingly, these volunteers do not need to have any legal experience and come from all backgrounds. All volunteers are trained by staff members and have the opportunity to participate in ongoing training sessions throughout the year.
The CASA is trained to work with all individuals involved in the child’s life and advocate for the best interest of the child. The CASA is encouraged to develop a relationship with the child involved. The CASA provides the magistrate with well-rounded, objective information and recommendations. CASA volunteers are a consistent voice for a child who has no voice in court.
Who can be a CASA?
- Anyone who cares about children and families
- Anyone who has reached the age of 21
- Anyone who has no felony convictions
- Anyone who can be non-partial
How do CASAs make a difference?
CASA volunteers impact the future. By providing advocacy on behalf of a child, the CASA volunteer nurtures potential in each child they work with. The CASA keeps the best interest of the child in the forefront of every meeting, conference, discussion and recommendation made on behalf of the child. The CASA may be the only one with that much focus regarding the child, their situation and the need for a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. Children need stability and permanence in order to develop into the productive individuals they all have the potential to be. The CASA volunteer ensures the child knows someone cares enough about them to focus on these things for them and allows the child to be a child while the adults focus on the other things.
To My CASA…
I’m not too small to misunderstand, nor too insignificant not to be heard. Because you are there beside me, I can share my fears, my loneliness, and my uncertainties. Because of you, the past will be just an early chapter in my life’s history rather than a summation of my time on earth.
Today is better than yesterday, tomorrow might even be glorious! Dear CASA, like most angels, you are usually unsung. But always remember that because of your perseverance, dedication, and devotion to a child, you have the power to move Heaven and Earth. May you ever be filled with peace, joy, and love in the same abundance as you bring to me. Think of me and smile.
Author: Sally Garrett
For information about CASA, contact the CASA Program Director at 574-295-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guardian ad Litem
Indiana statute provides the opportunity for courts to use CASAs as Guardian ad Litems in some situations. CAPS provides Guardian ad Litem services to Elkhart County courts.
A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the Judge in divorce or paternity cases where there is a dispute or disagreement regarding custody and/or parenting time. The GAL talks to both parties and the child, if appropriate, and may interview or receive written information from other sources. The GAL then provides the Court with objective, neutral information and recommendations on what arrangement is best for the child. GALs are also appointed in guardianship cases (both child and adult). The GAL will often remain in touch with the family to ensure that all court orders are being followed. GALs do not involve themselves in child support or property issues. A GAL must be appointed by the Court.