A. The training takes approximately 35 hours and includes time spent in group and independent study environments as well as observing actual court proceedings. The training features National CASA’s comprehensive training curriculum. Learn more about training by clicking here to go to the training section.
A. CASA of Mendocino & Lake Counties is mandated to insure the safety of the children served through the program. Volunteers must submit to and pass stringent pre-screening protocols that include FBI, Child Abuse Central Index, National Sex Offender Registry and Department of Motor Vehicles checks. For more about the pre-screening process, click here to go to the training section.
A. This depends on the age and interests of the child, as well as your own interests and time availability. Consideration must also be given for the household of child’s caregivers as well as the child’s overall service plan. If you are working with a teen, for example, you might spend time letting the teen introduce you to an interest he or she already has, such as music or sports; exploring career interests the youth has is another good idea. If working with a young child, trips to the park or library are often good possibilities. Because each child is a unique individual, there can be as many answers as there are children. Your CASA support staff has lists of ideas and activities for you to use as resources.
A. The primary role of a CASA volunteer is to gather facts and information relating to his or her CASA child’s circumstances, education, and health. The volunteer then uses that information to prepare a report to the Judge regarding the best interests and needs of the child, making fact-supported recommendations as appropriate.
A. The staff of CASA of Mendocino & Lake Counties includes a full-time case manager for direct support. The case manager attends court with all volunteers, assists in preparing reports and is available to provide advice and guidance to the volunteer. In addition, CASA’s entire staff is very knowledgeable about local resources for volunteers as needed. Lastly, CASA provides numerous on-going education opportunities on a wide variety of topics pertaining to the juvenile dependency and delinquency systems.
A. The time commitment you can expect to make once you are assigned to a case is from two to five hours per month. Because every case is different, and because there are different needs throughout the span of the case, there is no way to predict the actual time needed to advocate for each child ahead of time. Newly-trained CASA Advocates are expected to commit a minimum of one year to the CASA program.
A. On average, advocates with CASA of Mendocino & Lake Counties spend three years on a case. There are many variables in working on a dependency or delinquency system case, and the length of a case is difficult to predict. Of course we understand that a volunteer’s life circumstances may change requiring time away or a complete release from his or her assigned case. We have protocols in place to handle these situations.
A. The staff of CASA of Mendocino County understands that “life happens” every day. Often this can be dealt with by simply having the volunteer take a break from the case while CASA staff steps in to monitor the case during that time; the volunteer can then pick right up once their life has settled back down. Sometimes, though, it means a volunteer must resign a case. Again, CASA staff does everything possible to minimize the impact to the child, the case progress and the volunteer.
A. The goal of CASA staff is to make a match that will work long-term and is in the best interests of everyone involved. We therefore work closely with each volunteer to determine the type of case that is most appropriate for him or her before actually assigning anyone to the case.
A. If at any time during your work on a case, even prior to assignment, you find that you personally know the child, a member of the immediate family or someone directly connected to the case, you are obligated to notify CASA staff immediately that you may have a conflict of interest. CASA staff will then work with you to determine whether or not there is an actual conflict and then take the appropriate action. The ability to remain objective is critical in order for successful advocacy to occur; identifying a possible conflict of interest helps insure this to be the case.