Athens CASA is a court-based organization that recruits and trains community volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). CASAs are appointed to represent the best interests of children that come to the attention of Juvenile Court because of abuse and neglect. CASAs are tasked with completing objective investigations of each child’s case by building relationships with the children and significant adults involved in the child’s life. CASA volunteers report that information back to the Court, along with recommendations about how to best support the child.
CASAs make a difference. Children with assigned CASA volunteers tend to do better in school, have more court-ordered supportive services, experience fewer placement moves and are less likely to experience abuse again in the future. The work of CASA volunteers is a critical component in the juvenile court process in Athens County.
What you can do
The need for additional CASA volunteers is real and immediate. A CASA Volunteer gives a child a voice and makes a real difference in their lives. Watching the media stories, it’s obvious that the opiate epidemic is impacting Athens County families enormously and, as a result, is stressing the child welfare and juvenile court systems. Cases are becoming more complex and are staying open longer. As a result, the need for trained, committed CASA volunteers continues to grow.
Currently, there are dozens of children in Athens County, whose cases are being monitored by Athens CASA staff, while waiting for a CASA volunteer to be assigned. While more beneficial than no representation, this is not an adequate replacement for the dedicated work of a CASA volunteer. The CASA difference is in the caseload. CASA volunteers are only assigned 1-2 cases at a time and can devote a higher level of time and attention to each child.
Prospective volunteers can apply online at www.athenscasa.org/apply. Once the application is received, an in-person meeting with a Volunteer Coordinator will be scheduled to answer all questions and to ensure that the prospective volunteer is a great fit for our organization. After that, volunteers are invited to complete pre-service training. Trainees complete 15 hours of coursework online, 15 hours in a classroom, 3 hours in a learning lab and 2 hours of observation before being sworn in before the Court. Volunteers are asked to make at least a 2-year commitment to the program in order to remain consistent for children.