Volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocates; Powers And Duties (§9.1-153)
The CASA legislation outlines five major duties of the CASA volunteer:
- Investigating the case to which he/she is assigned to provide independent factual information to the court.
- Submitting to the court of a written report of his/her investigation.
- Monitoring the case to which he is assigned to ensure compliance with the court’s orders.
- Assisting any appointed guardian ad litem to represent the child in providing effective representation of the child’s needs and best interests.
- Reporting a suspected abused or neglected child to the local Department of Social Services.
Casa Volunteer Duties And Responsibilities (6vac20-160-60)
- The CASA volunteer’s investigation involves fact-finding via interviews, professional reports, observation of family and social interactions, and observation of the child’s environment.
- The CASA volunteer’s investigation involves the observation of the child’s circumstances. CASA volunteers may conduct interviews of children; however, CASA volunteers are specifically prohibited from questioning or inquiring of the child information regarding a precipitating incident or allegation involving child abuse and neglect.
- The CASA volunteer should encourage interdisciplinary coordination and cooperation, whenever possible, in an effort to develop a plan of action in conjunction with other local agencies and professionals.
Qualifications Of Volunteers (6vac20-160-90)
- CASA volunteers shall be at least 21 years of age.
- CASA volunteers shall have the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, to prepare court reports and to provide testimony.
- CASA volunteers shall possess mature judgment, a high degree of responsibility and sufficient time to assist in advocating for the best interests of the child.
- CASA volunteers shall be able to relate to persons of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status.
Screening of Volunteers (6vac20-160-100)
Each CASA program in Virginia may have slightly different procedures and/or requirements for volunteer screening. Every program must have the following as a minimum:
- Prior to being sworn in, CASA volunteers shall successfully complete screening procedures, which, at a minimum, shall include a written application and personal interview.
- Pursuant to the Code of Virginia, the director shall obtain, with the approval of the court, a copy of each applicant’s criminal history record or certification that no conviction data is maintained on him; a copy of information from the central registry on any investigation of child abuse or neglect undertaken on him or certification that no such record is maintained on him. If the volunteer applicant has lived in another state within the past five years, the CASA program director shall also obtain a copy of his criminal history record and a copy of information from the central registry from that area. An applicant shall be rejected if he refuses to sign a release of information for appropriate law-enforcement checks.
- The CASA program shall contact and obtain a response from three references provided by the CASA volunteer. References will speak to the character, judgment and suitability for the position of CASA volunteer.
- Before the volunteer is sworn in, the director shall determine that the CASA volunteer is qualified under 6VAC20-160-90 and 6VAC20-160-120.
- CASA volunteers shall successfully complete required training as set forth in 6VAC20-160-120.