Lift up a child's voice. A child's life. TM

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is CASA of El Paso?

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of El Paso assists the family court system by providing trained, court-appointed volunteers who advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children by making recommendations for safe and permanent homes. Our work is powerful, it is impactful and most importantly, it changes the lives of children.

Every year, hundreds of abused children of all ages and cultures are removed from their parents and placed in foster homes. CPS (Child Protective Services) gains legal custody of these kids and has limited time to reunite them with family or place the children up for adoption. In the overburdened court and child welfare systems, these children are at risk of falling through the cracks of a faceless system that was designed to care for and protect them. CASA of El Paso provides caring, unbiased volunteers who take a stand for the children on the case they represent.

CASA of El Paso recruits, trains and supervises these volunteers to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children in foster care. CASA is part of a nationwide organization of Court Appointed Special Advocates with 920 chapters in 50 states, and 70,000 volunteers.

What is a CASA?

CASA stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocates, volunteer advocates who serve as voices for abused and neglected children in foster care. The courts appoint CASA volunteers to gather information, make recommendations and be an independent voice in court for these vulnerable children. These volunteers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They speak up for children that have been neglected, abused, ignored. They’re trained and they have a cause - with a first and last name.

What is the CASAs role?

After completing our 30-hour training class and being assigned to a case, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) begin visiting the child regularly. Volunteer Advocates work closely with, but independent of, Child Protective Services (CPS) and attorneys. The role of the volunteer Advocate includes:

  • Being a fact-finder for the judge. The volunteer Advocate talks with the child, parents, family members, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child's history. The volunteer Advocate then provides the judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child's future.
  • Speaking for the child in court
  • The volunteer Advocate makes a recommendation to the court for permanent placement, stating whether it is in the best interest of the child to live with the parent(s), live with relatives, remain in foster care, or be available for permanent adoption.
  • Being a "watchdog" for the child
  • During the life of the case, the volunteer Advocate ensures the child's needs are met and the case is resolved swiftly and appropriately. The CASA must visit the child(ren) regularly, as outlined in their volunteer duties.

Is there a typical CASA?

CASAs come from all walks of life, representing a variety of ethnic, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Approximately two-thirds of our CASAs are employed full-time, some are college students and some are retired. What they have in common is the belief that children deserve a safe permanent home. CASAs must be at least 21 years of age and pass a background check. They also must have a valid driver's license, proof of automobile insurance, reliable transportation and the ability to be both compassionate and objective.

How much time does being a CASA take?

Each case is different, of course; but most cases require going to court 2 or 3 times during each six month period to present a report with recommendations to the judge. More time is spent on a case when it is first assigned, as this is the more intensive fact-finding stage. It will generally range between fifteen and twenty hours a month.

How do the legal system and child welfare system view CASA?

CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of U.S. Department of Justice. A CASA volunteer is described as 'the eyes and ears of the judge', and frequently acts as 'the arms and legs' of an overworked child protective system.

Which children are assigned CASAs?

Children who have been abused and neglected and are in foster care are assigned a CASA. Our goal is to provide a CASA to every child who needs one.

Are there any other agencies or groups that provide the same service?

No. There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child's best interests.

Where does CASA receive its financial support?

CASA of El Paso, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charity. We rely on grants and donations from foundations, corporations and individuals. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

What training does a CASA receive?

You will be required to complete a 30 hour training session focusing on everything you need to know to be an effective advocate, including mediation skills, cultural awareness and sensitivity, the legal system, courtroom procedures, social services, court report writing, record keeping, special needs of abused and neglected children, substance abuse, early childhood development, and adolescent behavior. Once assigned to a case, each volunteer advocate works with a CASA of El Paso staff supervisor who provides guidance throughout the court process.

What do children gain from having a CASA volunteer?

CASA volunteers are a source of hope and support for child victims as they wait for the courts to decide where they may safely live. Advocates help children access the services they need to heal from their abuse, and the information and recommendations CASA volunteers provide help to expedite the court process and provide better outcomes for children under the court’s protection. For many abused children, CASA is the only constant during a frightening, uncertain time. A CASA volunteer can make an immediate and critical impact on the life of a child.

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