Lyon County CASA exists to give a voice to our most vulnerable children – our purpose is to recruit, train and support court appointed special advocates so that every abused or neglected child can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive.
Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA volunteers, are empowered directly by the courts. They offer the system critical information to ensure each child’s rights and needs are being addressed.
CASA volunteers advocate in court for what is in the best interest of the child. Children become part of the child welfare system when Nevada’s Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) has determined it is unsafe for the child to remain at home due to abuse or neglect.
Lyon County CASA volunteers “speak up” for the children appearing in the Third Judicial District of Nevada child welfare cases–Lyon County. The CASA volunteer serves as a “guardian ad litem” under NRS 432B.500.
What does it mean to be a CASA volunteer?
Becoming a CASA volunteer is an investment of time, energy and heart. But as many volunteers have said of the children with whom they worked, “It wasn’t about what I gave to them; it was what they showed me.”
How much time does it take to be a CASA volunteer?
All volunteers must complete a 30 hour pre-service training. The time commitment to a case varies depending upon the stage of the case. Volunteers sometimes say there is a greater amount of work in the beginning of the case, when they are conducting their initial research. On average, you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours per month on a case.
What kind of long-term commitment to the program is required?
You are asked to dedicate yourself to a case until it is closed. After initial training, advocate for at least one child (or family), often a period of one to two years. We do ask that volunteers stay with a case until it has been resolved.
What special skills are needed?
No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. We do encourage people from all cultures and professions, and of all ethnic and educational backgrounds. Once accepted into the program, you will receive all necessary training in courtroom procedures, social services, the juvenile justice system and the special needs of abused and neglected children.
What are the requirements to become a CASA volunteer?
- Be of minimum age (21 years old)
- Pass a Criminal Background Check
- Submit a completed application including three personal references
- Participate in a personal interview
- Complete a minimum of 30 hours of pre-service training
- Be available for court appearances, with advance notice
- Be willing to commit to the CASA program until your first case is closed
- Maintain strict confidentiality
What exactly does a CASA volunteer do?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children to the court. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer include:
- Gather information. Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
- Maintain complete files about each case. Phone calls, interviews, visits, all pertinent info.
- Document findings. Provide written reports at court hearings at least 5 days prior to the hearing.
- 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 has said, “Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.”
- Recommend services. Ensure that the children and their family 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 support can I expect?
You will be supported every step of the way.
You will receive additional training on an annual basis as well.
How do I become involved?
Complete the volunteer application to begin the process. The volunteer application can be downloaded HERE. The Program Coordinator will then contact you with information about the background check. You will be expected to pay for your background check; but the cost will be reimbursed to you once you have completed your first case.