The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer is appointed by the Presiding Juvenile Judge and acts as their "eyes and ears" to help them determine what is best for these "dependent" children. The Volunteer has the authority, by Court Order, to gather confidential information about the children and their family; determine if reasonable efforts have been made to reunify the family once the cause of the children's removal has been addressed; to help ensure that appropriate case planning is implemented, and to make sure that services are available for both the child and family.
The Volunteers make an independent assessment of the situation and then develop recommendations as to what the best permanent placement should be. That could include return to parent, placement with a relative, long-term foster care, or adoption. And they always let the child know they are there, with them all the way until that one goal is reached - a safe, permanent and nurturing home.
They prepare written reports for the Court to inform the Judge of his/her assessment of the case, opinions and concerns, and recommendations regarding placement, counseling, medical needs, educational needs, and such. The Volunteer is asked to attend all court hearings and other meetings involving his/her case.
Perhaps the most important role of the CASA is to develop a caring, positive relationship with the child and to be a stable presence for the child. Because these children often experience many different placements, caseworkers, and/or therapists, while they are in the child welfare system, there is a great need for one person to be there for them the entire time.