What is a Allegheny CASA Volunteer Advocate?
What function do Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers serve?
Allegheny County CASA volunteers are trained to act as first-hand experts on the individual needs of abused, abandoned and neglected children in the dependency system, giving them the best possible chance at a hopeful future. Our Advocates serve as the fact-finders for the judge by thoroughly researching and investigating the current and background facts of each assigned case. These Advocates provide facts in report form to the judge and to speak for the child in the courtroom, representing the child’s best interests. They constantly facilitate communication between all parties in the case, as well as act as an overseer throughout the duration of the case, ensuring that it is brought to a swift and appropriate conclusion in the child’s best interests.
Judges appoint CASA volunteers to be the “eyes and ears” of the court – to advocate for abused, abandoned and neglected children so their needs aren’t overlooked by an overwhelmed child welfare system. Volunteers make a two year commitment to CASA, staying with their assigned child until their case is closed by the court and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the one constant adult presence in their lives. Independent research has demonstrated that children with a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and less likely to re-enter the child welfare system.
Who Are CASA Volunteer Advocates?
CASA volunteer advocates are committed people from all walks of life who believe society has a fundamental obligation to abused, abandoned, and neglected children. They are people just like YOU! The Allegheny County CASA volunteer advocate is not requiredto be a lawyer or a social worker, nor are they required to have a specific degree in a child-serving profession. Volunteers must be at least 21, pass all criminal and child abuse clearances and complete 30 hours of pre-service training. Last year, over 800 CASA volunteers advocated for 1,800 abused and neglected children in Pennsylvania through their local CASA programs. Over 10,000 children in the counties with local CASA programs are without a CASA volunteer.
Who Are the Children CASA Volunteer Advocates Help?
Allegheny County CASA volunteer advocates are appointed to children ranging in age from birth to 18, and can advocate for children up to age 21. Currently, there are not enough CASA volunteers to represent all of the children in care, hence, judges typically assign CASA volunteer advocates to their most difficult cases.
Are you willing to advocate to a volunteering opportunity that requires COMMITMENT, OBJECTIVITY and having a VOICE to speak on behalf of children?
CASA of ALLEGHENY COUNTY/ COVID-19 ACTION
CASA of Allegheny County will modify its work practices in response to the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Corona virus. Never before in the history of our agency have we had to take such steps to assure volunteer and child safety. However, given the rapidly evolving public health crisis, and in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, all CASA volunteers are to immediately suspend:
All in-person home visits
All in-person visitation observations and school observations
All in-person Community Meetings, attendance at meetings or staffing’s
All in-person appearances at court hearings, status conferences or pre-trial meetings
These changes are implemented as of today and will last through MAY 15, 2020. We will reassess and update on how we will proceed forward on MAY 18, 2020.
CASA of Allegheny County represents and protects the best interest of children in Allegheny County who are victims of abuse or neglect. CASA staff members and community volunteers are part of a legal process that ensures children are safe.
As a volunteer with CASA, we will ensure that you receive detailed training, which in turn will make an amazing difference in the lives of our children.
Once assigned, you will have the opportunity to interview caseworkers, speak with parents, ensure necessary medical care, look out for educational interests and make recommendations regarding the child/ren.
Most importantly, as a CASA Volunteer you serve as a “constant” for that child to count on during a very tumultuous time. Essentially, you do whatever it takes to ensure that the needs of the child/ren are being met.
The first step in working towards becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend a Community Meeting in our office. During this introductory session, you will learn more about the role of a CASA Volunteer and the impact of our work with abused and neglected children.