What does a CASA Volunteer do?
CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are volunteers appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children and youth in court and other settings. A CASA Volunteer attends court proceedings, helps the child or youth understand what is happening, and recommends any services for them.
Do I need to have any special skills to become a CASA volunteer?
No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. We encourage people from all backgrounds and professions to join our volunteer program. 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.
How does volunteering as a CASA differ from a social worker?
Social workers are employed by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Family Department (CYFD) and have multiple children and youth on their caseloads, whereas a CASA Volunteer is an advocate for one child, youth or sibling group. The CASA Volunteer is an independent officer of the court and works in the child’s best interests.
How is a CASA Volunteer different from an attorney?
The CASA Volunteer does not provide legal representation for the child in the courtroom. CASA Volunteers do work closely with the attorneys on the case, who are known as Guardians ad Litem (GAL). CASA volunteers provide their own independent investigation and directly make recommendations to the court.
Do judges, attorneys, and social workers support CASA?
Mesilla Valley CASA is well respected within the local child welfare system. Advocates are welcome in all the court rooms within the Family Court, and judges often commend our CASA volunteers for their dedication and insight. Social workers, attorneys, teachers, therapists, physicians and other professionals are willing to cooperate with our advocates because they know our volunteers undergo extensive training and maintain objectivity as officers of the court. Nationally, CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
How does the CASA program differ from other mentoring programs?
A CASA Volunteer in Doña Ana County only serves children and youth who are in New Mexico's Third District Children's Court system. While CASA volunteers develop a relationship with the children and youth through monthly visits, they also conduct an independent investigation, which looks into their overall well-being. The CASA gathers information about the child, writes court reports, and attends court hearings, as well as many other related meetings and appointments.