Volunteer with Mesilla Valley CASA
No special background or education is required to become a CASA volunteer. We 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.
Be 21 years old.
Be willing to complete necessary background checks, provide references, and participate in an 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, usually 12-18 months.
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 that 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 a month on a case.
Exactly what does a CASA volunteer do?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members, and professionals in their lives.
Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.
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 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 sort of support will I receive?
You will be supported every step of the way by your case supervisor. You will have opportunities for continuing education locally through Mesilla Valley CASA and have access to online resources provided by the National CASA Association, including a resource library, national Facebook community and national conference.
VOLUNTEER AS A CHILD ADVOCATE.
Be this someone. Be their advocate. Be a powerful voice.
Be a CASA.
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.
HOW DO I BECOME A VOLUNTEER WITH CASA?
Have more questions?
whether you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, donating to our cause, or you would like to collaborate with Mesilla Valley CASA, please feel free to email or call us with any question. You can also check out our resources page for more information about the work we do, why we do it, and how you can help.
Subscribe to CASA's email list to stay connected and up to date on the work CASA is doing to serve our community!