You can speak up for a child who's been abused or neglected. Become a CASA volunteer.

Imagine the experience of children who are removed from their home, their family, their siblings, and everything they know and care about. They find themselves in a world filled with social workers, lawyers, judges and courtrooms where life-altering decisions are made on their behalf.

 

 

A CASA volunteer is a court appointed, trained and committed adult who ensures that each child’s individual needs remain a priority in an overburdened child welfare system. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, therapists, caregivers, and anyone else involved in the child’s life in order to make independent and informed recommendations to help the judge decide what’s best for the child. In Travis County, CASA volunteers serve as the guardian ad litem (GAL), an official representative in a Child Protective Services case entitled to access information about the child's situation and required to make reports to the court in the child's best interest.

As a CASA volunteer, you:

  • Spend quality time with the child or children you’re appointed to
  • Communicate regularly with the child(ren)’s parents, relatives, teachers, doctors, therapists, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life
  • Participate in case meetings and review case files
  • Gather and document information on your case
  • Formulate recommendations on what’s in the best interest of the children
  • Submit a court report and present your recommendations to the judge in the courtroom

Who can volunteer?

CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. No special education, experience or background is needed.

 

You must be at least 21 years of age and be able to pass extensive reference, Child Protective Services, sex offender registry and criminal background checks before becoming a CASA volunteer. Volunteers should have effective oral and written communication skills and comfort with computer technology including email and word processing. You may not be a current foster parent or be in the process of adopting a child from Child Protective Services. If an attorney, you may not concurrently be appointed to any cases involving Child Protective Services in Travis County.

Impact

For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible.

  • When it’s safe to do so, CASA believes it is in children’s best interest to stay connected to their families. Of the 741 children’s cases closed with the help of CASA last year, 51% were reunified with their parents and 25% were adopted by or live permanently with relatives.
  • A study by Texas Appleseed, "Improving the Lives of Children in Long-Term Foster Care," reports that "If a child has a CASA, the CASA usually is the only person who truly knows the child and knows how the child is really doing."
  • National CASA reports that children with CASA volunteers are more likely to receive therapy, health care and education, more likely to do better in school, less likely to be bounced from one place to another, less likely to get stuck in long-term foster care and significantly more likely to reach safe, permanent homes.
  • Most importantly, children themselves report that they know and can rely on their CASA volunteers.

For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place.

Your commitment

As a CASA volunteer, you commit to spending 15-20 hours per month for the duration of one specific case (17 months on average). You get to know and build a trusting relationship with your child or family of children by seeing them in person at least once a month. You research the case and talk with everyone involved so that you can prepare reports to the court based on what you believe is best for the child, helping the judge make the most informed decision possible. Volunteering is a serious time commitment, but the scheduling of your activities is mostly flexible. A volunteer’s commitment to seeing a case through until it closes ensures a consistent, reliable adult in a child’s life and a better chance for the child to reach a safe, permanent home.

State Employees: Did you know you already have 5 hours you can give to children who’ve been abused or neglected?

“A state employee may be granted leave not to exceed five hours each month to participate in mandatory training or perform volunteer services for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) without a deduction in salary or loss of vacation time, sick leave, earned overtime credit, or state compensatory time.”  HB 1462 of the 81st Legislative Session; Tex. Gov’t Code § 661.921.

Learn more about your commitment in our blog post, A Month in the Life of a CASA Volunteer.

Training & Support

We will provide you with all the training and support you need to serve as an effective advocate. The CASA Volunteer Training program consists of 8 in-person 3.5-hour classes, an hour of pre-work for each class and 3 hours of courtroom observation (approximately 39 hours total) completed over a 5-week cycle. You must finish all training and observation within the 5 weeks and all background checks must be completed and cleared in order to be assigned to a case. View our training cycle calendars.

Training topics include: Trauma, Resilience, Mental Health, Poverty, Substance Abuse, Domestic Violence, Cultural Competence, Educational Advocacy, Communications Skills and more

Once assigned a case, you will be paired with a staff professional, called a Child Advocacy Specialist (CAS), who supports and guides you every step of the way. This includes preparing for and attending case-related hearings and meetings and guiding the volunteer to pertinent resources specific to each case. 

To help you in your decision process you can:

I'm ready to volunteer... What’s next?

Becoming a CASA volunteer involves a 3-part screening process:

1. Apply 

Apply to become a CASA volunteer

Click here to complete your Volunteer Application.

If you do not receive a confirmation email within 2 business days of submitting your application, please call 512.539.2654.

2. Interview

Once we receive your application, we will call you to schedule a Pre-Training Interview.

3. Train

After your interview, you will attend the 5-week CASA Volunteer Training cycle that works best with your schedule. View the Training Schedule.

Applications are due at least 12 business days prior to the start of the training cycle you wish to participate in. We recommend submitting your application as early as possible for improved chances of getting into your preferred training cycle. Pre-Training Interview time slots are limited and fill up fast, and they are a prerequisite to being accepted into training. 

Still have questions?

Contact our Volunteer Recruitment Specialist, Elena Jimenez, at 512.539.2994 or via email.

You can make the difference for kids.

If you are looking for a meaningful and enriching volunteer opportunity in the Austin area and you care about the best interest of children, CASA is right for you. 900 children in Austin still needed a CASA volunteer last year. Our vision is to provide a trained volunteer advocate, a safe home and a promising future for every child who needs us. We hope you decide to join our community of volunteers.

CASA of Travis County’s Commitment to Equal Opportunity is an important part of our core values. In order to provide the best quality advocacy for children in our community, we believe that we must be responsive to the needs of everyone who may provide, receive or be affected by our services. To that end, all policies, practices and recommendations are administered without discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, gender identity and gender expression, marital status, physical abilities or national origin.