The time commitment fluctuates. The biggest time committment is the initial 30+ hours of preservice training. Generally, an average of 5-10 hours per month is spent providing best interest advocacy.
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Every case is different, and the length of each case can fluctuate, but in general, from the time of case appointment to the end of the case is generally 18-24 months or until a safe and permanent home is found.
Generally, CASA volunteers advocate for one case at a time. However, a case may involve more than one child from the same family.
You cannot currently be fostering a child and be a CASA volunteer. However, we welcome previous foster parents, or those who are not ready to be a foster parent but still want to make a difference in the life of a child residing in foster care.
Some families choose to maintain active relationships with the CASA volunteer, and for other families, maintaining a relationship with a CASA volunteer may be a difficult reminder of one of the most trying times in their lives.
A CASA volunteer works hand in hand with a CASA case supervisor right from the beginning of a case. A CASA volunteer’s supervisor is there to help them navigate the Juvenile Abuse and Neglect Court, the foster care system, and all components of best-interest advocacy. As well, volunteer appreciation events and quarterly get-togethers are held to help CASA volunteers develop connections and a support network of other CASA volunteers.
As a child in foster care life is changing constantly, a CASA volunteer may be the one consistent and caring adult in that child’s life. By being that consistent person, a CASA volunteer can help fight the effects of childhood trauma and aid in building resiliency. In addition, a study from the Illinois CASA Association indicated that a child with a CASA spends an average of six months less time in care, and of the cases with a CASA assigned, only .5% re-enter foster care.
A CASA volunteer is an independent voice, advocating on behalf of one child or sibling group. Generally, a caseworker is employed by The Department of Child and Family Services or other local agencies such as The Baby Fold or The Center for Youth and Family Solutions. Caseworkers generally have dozens of cases they manage at one time, making a comprehensive investigation of each case a challenge at times. The CASA volunteer, however, is appointed specifically to one case and can devote more time advocating for a child or sibling group. The CASA volunteer does not replace a caseworker; they are an independent appointee of the court. The CASA volunteer thoroughly examines a child’s case, provides medical, educational, personal, and legal advocacy, explores various community resources for the child and family and makes recommendations to the court.
The CASA program and the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) are both programs housed under McLean County Government that serve different purposes. While CASA volunteers are advocates for children in foster care, the Children's Advocacy Center is there to aid children and families after an allegation of sexual or severe physical abuse has been made.
The Child Protection Network (CPN) is a non-profit entity that provides financial support for the CASA and CAC programs.