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What We Do

Frequent Questions

  1. Court Appointed Special Advocates are community members just like you who ensure each neglected and abused child’s needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system while working to find safe, permanent homes for these most vulnerable children. Our Advocates get to know the children, their caregivers, and the facts of the case. The children already may have been removed from the home and placed in foster care, or they may be at risk of entering foster care. They take part in such processes as child and family visits, court hearings, and meetings about the children's needs. Advocates express their concerns and explore all of the options for permanent homes.

  2. Ordinary people who care about the well-being of kids. CASA Advocates come from all backgrounds. Many work full-time. Some are students, working parents, or retired people. Flexibility, rather than employment status, is the critical factor. Most CASA Advocates work on a single case at a time. No legal expertise is required.

  3. Decisions are made every day which affect the lives of children involved in Family Court cases. CASA Advocates help these decisions to be made more promptly and with greater information and sensitivity to the child's individual needs. CASA Advocates work for better outcomes, and provide children living out of their home with the knowledge that there is a community around them who cares.

  4. Yes. CASA of Rochester/Monroe County has a 6-week training program which requires 18 hours of in-class training, 15 hours of self study, and 6 hours of court observation prior to case assignment. All volunteers are matched with an Advocate Supervisor who is a member of the CASA staff. Advocate Supervisors provide individual guidance, support, and accompaniment to the Advocate.

  5. Definitely. CASA of Rochester/Monroe County could not serve the children of Monroe County without its many dedicated volunteer advocates. Courts all over the country depend on their local CASA to help inform the child welfare process. Judges implement the CASA program in their jurisdictions and appoint CASA to cases . CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, and the Department of Justice.

    Legislation provides statutory and legislative recognition of CASA, a volunteer based program that, for the past 38 years, has provided substantive advocacy for abused and neglected children in the family courts throughout New York State. The legislation codifies Court Rules established in 2006 that set forth the requirements for CASA program certification and Office of Court Administration funding, and define the role of the CASA volunteer in “providing thorough information about the health, safety, well-being and permanency plans of children and their families to the court, the parties and law guardian..."

  6. Advocates come from a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. Over half are employed full-time. Advocates must be 21 or older, undergo a background check and a personal interview, complete the training curriculum, and agree to abide by the policies and guidelines of CASA of Rochester/Monroe County. Advocates must be patient, open-minded people who have good communication skills, a history of following through on commitments, and a willingness to accept guidance. Above all, they must care about children.

  7. CASA Advocates are assigned by the Family Court Judge in the case, but they do not have authority to decide outcomes. Rather, they rely on their communication skills, their informed reports and the respect of the courts to inform outcomes.

  8. Each advocate and each case is different. The amount of time devoted to a case depends on the specific needs of the case and the amount of time the advocate has available. Advocates devote an average of ten hours per month to each case. Some of this time can be spent on evenings or weekends, but there are court hearings, phone calls, and meetings during working hours as well. We will work with you to find an assignment that suits your availability.

  9. Only trained Advocates are able to work with the children we serve. Children in family court cases are assured a degree of confidentiality, and the friends and family of Advocates are not allowed to meet them or to know their identity. Only advocates who have been fully screened, trained, taking the Oath of Confidentiality, may have contact with CASA children. There are other volunteer opportunities which do not involve casework available.

  10. Most of the time the advocates work by themselves. However, the staff supports and will directly assist volunteers upon request. For example, a volunteer may request that a staff person accompany him/her to a meeting or court hearing.

  11. Being a CASA is both rewarding and challenging. The child welfare system is bureaucratic and overburdened, and our Advocates often have to work hard to get the system to respond. Because of court decisions, social service plans, and other factors out of our control, the advocate can face disappointments. The biggest reward comes on the day when the child is placed in a safe, permanent home, and knowing they made a difference in a child's life.

  12. To take the first step towards becoming an Advocate, complete and submit the CASA Advocate Application