Court Appointed Special Advocates

Change a Child’s Story™. Become a CASA Volunteer.

 

Richmond Court Appointed Special Advocates is currently in need of volunteers to serve children in our community. CASA volunteers advocate for children who have been abused or neglected. They make sure the child’s needs are heard – in the community and in the courtroom – and serve as a caring, consistent adult in a child’s life. CASA volunteers are individuals from all walks of life who are willing to dedicate their time to looking out for a child’s best interests.

CASA volunteers get to know the child and gather information from everyone involved in his or her life, including parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers and other service providers. CASA volunteers use the information gathered to advocate for the child’s best interests through a written report to the judge, including recommendations for services that aim to strengthen families and promote healing.

CASA strives to build a community of volunteers that reflects the diversity of the children we serve. Men, LGBTQ+ individuals and individuals who reflect the racial, ethnic, economic and linguistic diversity of Richmond City are strongly encouraged to apply.

While the foster care system is intended to provide a temporary, safe home to children who have experienced abuse or neglect, we know that the system is far from ideal.

  • Many children remain in foster care for years, and may be moved to many different foster homes during that time. In Virginia, 60% of children who had been in care for longer than 24 months had lived in 3 or more foster care placements. CASAs advocate for children to have a safe, permanent home, as quickly as possible, and serve as a caring, consistent adult while they spend time in foster care.
  • Professionals involved in these cases are doing their best to help children, but often have large caseloads. In Virginia, a third of children in foster care have a social worker who has a higher than recommended caseload. Attorneys who represent the child also have very large caseloads and are typically not able to see the children they represent on a regular basis. As volunteers, CASAs are unique in that they only have 1 case at a time, so they have time to get to know the child and the family’s situation, and can make sure the child’s needs are being heard.
  • Virginia ranks 49th in the nation for youth aging out of foster care without permanency. Richmond CASA has recently expanded to better support youth who turn 18 without finding a stable home.
  • Black youth, youth of color and youth living in poverty are disproportionately represented in the court system across the country. We need volunteers who understand their experiences and can amplify their voices.

You don’t need to be a social worker, attorney or politician to change the system. CASA volunteers have the opportunity to make a difference for one child at a time. By advocating for a child, you can get involved in changing the system for the better.

CASA Volunteers must meet the following criteria:

  • Be over the age of 21
  • Willing to commit at least 18 months of their time in order to provide consistency for a child throughout the entire case
  • Have access to a computer
  • Able to participate in the 35-hour training class
  • Able to devote 10-15 hours each month to their case
  • Able to effectively communicate orally and in writing
  • Have a genuine desire to help a child in need
  • Have no significant criminal history or child abuse registry findings

Ready to speak up for a child who needs you?

Step 1: Information Session (Optional)

Would you like to hear from a CASA volunteer about their experience? Please join us for an information session to learn how CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children who have been abused or neglected. Two current volunteers will be there to speak about their experiences and answer questions. Join us for a CASA Volunteer info session on December 1, 2022 from 6pm – 7pm. 

If you are still deciding whether this volunteer opportunity is right for you, but can’t attend the information session, you can also learn more by reading our Brochure and Frequently Asked Questions, or contact Sarah-Keel Crews at volunteer@grscan.com or 804-646-5180.

Step 2: Application

Once you have decided that you would like to become a CASA volunteer, download the CASA Volunteer Application. You can email the application to Sarah-Keel Crews at volunteer@grscan.com or fax it to 804-257-7109. Please make sure you send your typed autobiography with the completed application form. 

Step 3: Interview
Part of the screening process is an in-person interview with two CASA staff members, so that you can learn more about the Richmond CASA program and we can assess whether you will be a good fit for this volunteer role. Because we work with children, we conduct a thorough background check on all of our volunteers. You will be asked to complete several background check forms at the time of your interview. All interviews are currently being conducted by video chat.
Step 4: Training

We offer 3 New Volunteer Training classes each year. See below for upcoming training dates. Richmond CASA volunteers participate in 35 hours of pre-service training, which typically involves 30 hours of classroom interaction and 2.5 hours of courtroom observation. Training is an extension of our screening process.

Step 5: Swearing In
After successful completion of the previous steps, you will be sworn in by a Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge and ready to accept your first case. Richmond CASA staff will be on hand to support you every step of the way.

A CASA’s Story

To learn more about how the CASA movement began and the impact of CASA, please visit National CASA’s website.

If you have questions about becoming a Richmond CASA volunteer, please contact Sarah-Keel Crews at volunteer@grscan.com or 804-646-5184.