Below are some of the most frequently asked questions. If you still have questions, please contact the CASA staff.
What is CASA?
CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates. In some programs, the volunteer advocates assume the role of a lay guardian ad litem (GAL). The first CASA program was created in 1977 by Seattle Judge David Soukup.
Who are CASA volunteers?
CASA volunteers are trained advocates assigned to report to the court on behalf of a child who has been a victim of abuse or neglect. Volunteers come from all walks of life, all ages and diversities, with close to half working at full-time jobs. Every CASA volunteer receives training and support from local program staff, who have professional backgrounds in the legal and child welfare fields.
Where do I send my volunteer application?
Mail your application to 835 S. Burlington Ave., Suite 106, Hastings, NE 68901. For additional information, please call the office at 402-463-1030.
How are volunteers screened?
National CASA Local Program Standards require that all staff and volunteers pass an application and screening process that includes a check of national and state criminal records, state child protective services, and sex offender registries. A personal interview and reference check are also required. Board members are required to pass the same background checks as a CASA volunteer.
How are they trained?
New volunteers receive a minimum of 30 hours of preservice training. These trainings often utilize the National CASA Volunteer Training Curriculum, a thorough collection of information vital to working within the juvenile court system and understanding the complexities of the social service system as well as the dynamics of child abuse and neglect.
In 2012, National CASA introduced a flex-training program option, which local programs can offer. Participants in the flex-training program complete part of the preservice training online and part in person. Volunteers are also required to complete at least 12 hours of ongoing training per year to stay current on information vital to their roles.
Am I at risk volunteering?
In the more than 25 years that CASA of South Central Nebraska has existed, there have been no issues with the safety of the volunteers, and all the volunteers are trained to handle situations involving families and friends. Also, the CASA office staff is always available to assist.
Can the children come home with me?
Although creating relationships and getting to know the children you work with are important parts of your role as a volunteer, bringing the children to your home is not allowed. There are several other ways in which you can build a relationship with the children, which are discussed in the training sessions. The staff of CASA of South Central Nebraska is always willing to help with ideas.
What is the role of a volunteer?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The following are the primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer.
- Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members, and professionals in their lives.
- Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.
- Appear in court: Advocate for the child’s best interests and provide testimony when necessary.
- Explain what is going on: Help the child understand the court proceedings.
- “Be the glue”: Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children’s lives. As one volunteer said, be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
- Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their families are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child’s health, education, mental health, etc., to the appropriate professionals.
- Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held.
- Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members. Ensure that appropriate motions are filed on behalf of the child so the court knows about any changes in the child’s situation.
What can I donate?
Any level of monetary gift is extremely helpful in reaching more abused and neglected children. Gently used or new toys are also always appreciated. However, please call the CASA of South Central Nebraska office to learn about the specific needs of the organization.
Where do I send donations?
All donations can be sent to or dropped off at 835 S. Burlington Ave., Suite 106, Hastings, NE 68901.