In my personal opinion, there is a special place in heaven for people who act as CASAs. CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate. These are wonderful volunteers who work on behalf of children who are caught in the middle of deprivation actions in juvenile court.
CASA volunteers have to go through a screening process and training before they are allowed to participate in the juvenile court process. CASAs generally advocate for the best interest of the child in question. This means that they look at the whole situation, independently from lawyers and child welfare agencies, and tell the judge what they think is best for the child.
The Georgia code specifically defines what a CASA should do in order to meet this goal. O.C.G.A. 15-11-9.1(d) says that unless a judge says otherwise, “a CASA shall:
(1) Conduct an independent assessment to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the case;
(2) Maintain regular and sufficient in-person contact with the child;
(3) Submit written reports to the court regarding the child’s best interests;
(4) Advocate for timely court hearings to obtain permanency for the child;
(5) Request a judicial citizen review panel or judicial review of the case;
(6) Collaborate with the child’s attorney, if any;
(7) Attend all court hearings and other proceedings to advocate for the child’s best interests;
(8) Monitor compliance with the case plan and all court orders; and
(9) Review all court related documents.”
In practical terms, CASAs get to know the children involved much better and on a much personal level than most other people involved in the court process. Because, as volunteers, they only have one or two cases on their load at any given moment, they can devote their time to the children who really need the attention. CASA volunteers are the best insurance that the most powerless among us – deprived children – have a voice in the process and don’t slip through the cracks. Heart wrenching at times, it can be incredibly rewarding work. I can tell you that as a lawyer who works in the juvenile courts, the input that CASA volunteers have in the proceedings is invaluable.
For more information on becoming a CASA volunteer in Walton and Newton County, please call Lindsay Tyner at 770 385-7450. For more information about volunteering elsewhere in Georgia, click here.
This article was written by a lawyer, but should not be considered legal advice in any way, shape, or form. It is written for general (and generally vague) informational purposes only. In order to properly evaluate your case, a lawyer must examine all the facts and circumstances that are particular and personal to your situation. I have not done that here.