- Volunteer Opportunities / Responsibilities: A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a trained and dedicated community volunteer assigned to lift the voice of a youth in the DC Foster Care system. Through this core program, CASA volunteers are assigned to work with children who have open abuse and neglect cases in the DC Family Court. The children range in age from infant to 21 and have a broad range of needs. CASA volunteers are appointed and sworn in by judges in order to fully investigate a youth’s circumstances and advocate for what is in the youth’s best interest. While teachers, therapists and other professionals come and go, the CASA provides a constant support for the youth to count on in order to thrive.
CASAs spend an average of 10 hours a month working on their case. While volunteers are required to serve one year, we hope that each CASA volunteers will remain on their case until it is closed.
Within the standard CASA program outlined above, here at CASA DC we have 4 additional focus areas targeted to meet the needs of specific populations:
1) The Family Treatment Court was created in 2003 as a collaboration between Family Court and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, Families, and Elders. It is a voluntary residential substance abuse treatment program for parents with an open neglect case.
2) The Preparing Youth for Adulthood initiative was created in 2007 to better address the needs of youth transitioning from foster care into adulthood. The main goal of PYA is to improve the outcomes of youth who exit the foster system in areas such as homelessness and unemployment. This program empowers the youth from the start, allowing the youth the choice to join PYA, and includes the assignment of a CASA specially trained to work with older youth, casual meetings with their judge and hands-on budgeting and networking opportunities.
3) In January of 2015, CASA began working with Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) that are in care. For refugee minors, the State Department identifies children overseas who are eligible for resettlement in the United States, but do not have a parent or a relative available and committed to providing for their long-term care. Upon arrival in the U.S., these refugee children are placed into care and receive refugee foster care services and benefits. CASA volunteers that are assigned to a URM youth provide support, not only culturally, but in providing assistance in minimizing the daily stressors that may occur as they assimilate to living in the U.S. CASA volunteers provide their youth opportunities to practice their English as at times it may be difficult to express their worries and concerns. Through positive experiences CASA volunteers and their youth build a relationship that continues to grow as the young person adjusts to his or her new environment.
4) Adolescents in the United States who violate age related legal requirements (such as attending school, running away, or being excessively disobedient), and whose transgression of civil conduct warns of forthcoming criminality, can be referred by schools, parents or criminal prosecutors to a judge for guidance and supervision. CASA for Children has begun working with youth who are in the PINS system. CASA volunteers work to improve social functioning and skills acquisition among these adolescents. During this time, volunteers provide guidance and stability and help bridge the gap between a youth’s home environment and open juvenile case.
- Types of Volunteers Needed: individual/adult; adult groups of less than 5; adult groups of 6 or more, including corporate teams
- Hours Needed: business hours during the week; evenings during the week; daytime on the weekend