IS CASA OF SISKIYOU COUNTY THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND?
No, we are one of over 900 independent CASA programs nationwide. California has 41 other CASA programs, but our local program serves the children in Siskiyou County exclusively.
HOW DID CASA PROGRAMS GET STARTED?
In 1976 a Seattle judge, concerned about not having sufficient evidence with which to make decisions involving children victimized by abuse and neglect, conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. Today a CASA’s objective, unbiased recommendation to support the best interest of a child is considered an invaluable aid to the judge.
HOW AND WHEN DID CASA OF SISKIYOU COUNTY GET STARTED?
This CASA of Siskiyou County program began in February of 2004. A previous CASA program started in the late 1980s and was dissolved in 2003. Both programs were started in response to abuse and neglect of children in our county, which has one of the highest per capita rates of child abuse and neglect in the state.
IS CASA OF SISKIYOU COUNTY THE SAME AS CHOICES FOR CHILDREN?
No, the former CASA program was under the umbrella of Choices for Children, but this new program is not affiliated with Choices for Children.
ARE THERE OTHER AGENCIES OR GROUPS PROVIDING A SIMILAR 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 interests.
CAN I VOLUNTEER WITHOUT TAKING ON A CASE/CHILD?
Yes, there are many ways you can volunteer, including fundraising, serving on a committee, office help and outreach.
WHAT IS A CASA VOLUTEER?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in dependency court. Children helped by CASA volunteers include those for whom home placement is being determined in juvenile dependency court. Most of the children are victims of abuse or neglect and live in foster care.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF A CASA VOLUNTEER?
WHAT AGE DO YOU HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO BE A CASA?
You must be at least 21 years of age to be a CASA volunteer. Those under 21 are welcome to help with special office projects, outreach and fundraising.
CAN I WORK FULL TIME AND STILL BE A CASA?
Yes, most advocates work in addition to volunteering. In fact, half of all CASAs nationwide have full-time employment in addition to serving as an advocate.
HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK DOES IT TAKE TO BE A CASA VOLUNTEER?
Each case is different. We ask that CASA volunteers make a weekly commitment of 1-3 hours.
WHAT IS THE LENGTH OF THE CASA VOLUNTEER’S COMMITTMENT?
The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child. On average, dependent children spend about two years in foster care, so we ask for a two year commitment from our volunteers, or a commitment until the child is in a safe and permanent home.
I TRAVEL OCCASIONALLY; WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO DO THAT AS A CASA?
Yes. Consistency is one of the prime functions of a volunteer, but most volunteers take occasional vacations. We ask that you communicate with your case supervisor and your CASA child in advance of a travel date. Consider sending a post card to your CASA child or staying in touch by phone.
DO CASA VOLUNTEERS HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
Yes. Typically volunteers go to court 2-3 times a year. One of the most important and rewarding aspects of being a CASA is making recommendations to the Court for your CASA child. Judges rely heavily on this testimony to make informed decision on the future of your child. Court hearings are typically scheduled every six months, and you will usually know the date of your CASA child’s hearing well in advance.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE AN ATTORNEY, OR HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO BE A CASA VOLUNTEER?
No. CASAs are volunteers from all professions, cultural, ethnic and educational backgrounds. No specific or previous experience is needed. CASA of Siskiyou County provides the training you will need.
WILL I HAVE SUPPORT IN COURT?
Yes, there will be a CASA staff person there with you as a support person.
DO LAWYERS, JUDGES, AND SOCIAL CASEWORKERS SUPPORT CASA?
Yes. Juvenile and family court judges choose to implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint CASA volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice.
HOW LONG IS THE CASA TRAINING?
The total training lasts about 32 hours. Typically, there are ten classroom sessions, three hours each, plus a court observation, all of which usually takes place over five weeks. The training covers many important topics such as common causes for neglect and abuse, cultural competence, court proceedings, confidentiality, court report writing, and child development.
CAN I BRING MY CHILDREN WITH ME WHEN I’M VOLUNTEERING AS A CASA?
No. CASA children need one-on-one time with their volunteer. This is an independent role that will be separate from your family.
CAN I TAKE MY CASA CHILD HOME WITH ME FOR VISITS?
No. For many reasons, which will be discussed in training, volunteers are not allowed to take children to their homes.
DO CASA VOLUNTEERS MEET THE PARENTS OF THEIR CASA CHILD?
Most often, yes. CASA volunteers speak with everyone involved in their CASA child’s life, including parents, teachers, social workers, foster parents, mental health and medical providers. If you feel uncomfortable meeting with anyone, you may request a CASA staff person to go with you.
TO WHOM DOES A CASA VOLUNTEER TURN WITH QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS?
Every volunteer has a case supervisor. He or she is available to answer any questions or concerns you might have. Our job is to support CASA volunteers!
HOW MANY CHILDREN NEED A CASA IN SISKIYOU COUNTY?
As of November 2016 there were approximately 150 dependent children in Siskiyou County. This is one of the highest per capita rates of dependent children in California. Most, if not all, of these children could use a CASA volunteer to be a voice for them.
CAN I CHOOSE TO ADVOCATE FOR A CHILD WHO LIVES CLOSE TO MY HOME, SO I DON’T HAVE TO TRAVEL TOO FAR?
Probably not. Although we will try to match you with a child in your area, there are foster homes throughout the county, and children in foster care are sometimes moved from home to home. Your CASA child may not remain in the home she/he was in when you first met.
HOW IS CASA FUNDED?
CASA relies on our community to support child advocacy. CASA’s funding comes from private donors, including individuals, foundations, businesses, service clubs and faith-based organizations. We also receive contributions from the federal and state government. On a national level, CASA has saved taxpayers over $6 million in foster care services and provided the labor equivalent of over $200 million in volunteer service hours. All donations to our CASA program remain in Siskiyou County to support local children and local volunteers who work hard to realize our goal of every child in Siskiyou County having a safe, loving and permanent home.
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE CASA PROGRAMS?
Preliminary findings show that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and less time in the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation. Judges have observed that CASA advocated children also have better chances of finding permanent homes.
HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BECOMING A CASA VOLUNTEER?
For more information, please contact the CASA of Siskiyou County office or visit our website at www.siskiyoucasa.org. You can also learn more about National CASA at www.casaforchildren.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
THE CASA OFFICE:
Phone: (530) 841-0844
Fax: (530) 841-0369
BE THE DIFFERENCE
IN A CHILD’S LIFE.