While attendance at court hearings is a strongly suggested duty of a CASA volunteer advocate, we understand that unavoidable work responsibilities may arise that prevent attendance. If you cannot attend, contact your Advocate Supervisor immediately, as he or she may attend in your place.
A CASA will be informed of his or her next court date at the conclusion of the current hearing, usually six months in advance. The CASA office will also remind CASA advocates of their court dates a few weeks prior.
The young people served by Macon County CASA range in age from infant to age 21.
CASA advocates are not allowed to take their assigned CASA child(ren) on family outings or invite them to visit their home, as this can often lead to confusion for the child about the relationship. Additionally, in most cases, family members have not gone through CASA training and are not held to the same confidentiality parameters, which would cause a breach of confidentiality.
Each CASA is assigned an Advocate Supervisor and has access to FREE continuing education training and materials through the Macon County CASA office and staff. Other activities, such as social get-togethers help connect volunteers with each other to discuss common issues.
Some local travel may be necessary, as the duties of a CASA include monthly, face-to-face contact with the child wherever he or she resides, plus required court hearings a few times per year. You may also need to travel to gather information from other parties related to the case. Just over 30% of Macon County foster children are placed in homes outside of Macon County. So, we also seek volunteers to travel to neighboring counties two times a month to work a case.
We thoroughly screen all applicants for the CASA volunteer Advocate position, including
- CANTS (Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System)
- LEADS (Law Enforcement Detailed Summary)
- Fingerprints (submitted to the FBI)
- National Sex Offender Registry
- A valid Driver’s License or government-issued identification
- Verification of social security number
Studies have shown CASA volunteer advocates help reduce court costs, stays in foster care and even delinquency rates. A study conducted by the National CASA Association showed that children with a CASA volunteer advocate spent approximately eight fewer months in foster care than children without a CASA (Here in Macon County, IL, CASA ensures that foster children stay in care six fewer months than if they had no CASA advocate.). This not only means that a child finds a permanent and safe home more quickly, but reflects a significant savings to taxpayers. And finally, when CASA closes a child’s case, 98% of the time, that child’s case does not re-open. This is vital to ensure that CASA is not simply closing case to be finished with the case, but rather we are focused on efficiency and overall effectiveness towards the goal of safe and permanent homes.
Judges know their decisions are only as good as the information they receive. So, yes, they count on the CASA advocate’s independent voice, recognizing that the CASA volunteer advocate has more time to focus on specific cases. A CASA advocate who can tell the court “I was there; this is what I observed,” is invaluable.
We hire staff to manage the program and supervise volunteers. Program costs include salaries, office support, computers and equipment, travel, recruitment and training. CASA staff members recruit, train and supervise volunteers to ensure quality services. All operations and activities are designed to meet National CASA program standards. The CASA staff members are the child welfare experts, so the volunteers can focus on using their experiences in the fields in which they are experts to create productive and meaningful relationships with the child.