I don’t have any experience with the dependency system or youth living in foster care. Am I still a good candidate?

Yes!  You do not need prior knowledge of the foster care system to be a CASA volunteer.  We will provide all the training and ongoing support you need. 

I have no legal experience and have never been to court or written a court report. Does this mean I’m not qualified to serve as a CASA volunteer?

Absolutely not.  No legal or court report writing experience is required.  We will provide all the training and ongoing support that you need. 

I have no children of my own. Can I still be an effective CASA volunteer?

Yes!  Many of our CASA volunteers do not have children.  Others have little or no experience working with children and still make wonderful advocates.  Bring your desire to help and support children and CASA of LA will provide all the training you need!

Can I be a CASA volunteer if I used to be a child in foster care or have personal experience with some of the issues that pertain to child welfare?

Yes!  CASA of LA honors the personal and professional experience of our applicants and volunteers.

I have been approved as a Resource Family but I have no children approved to be living in my home right now. Am I eligible?

You are not eligible at this time, as serving as a Resource Family may be seen as a conflict of interest to your CASA service.  You are welcome to apply when you are no longer an approved Resource Family.  (As of January 1, 2017, all existing relative caregivers, non-relative caregivers, foster parents, and legal guardians need to become approved Resource Families by December 31, 2019.  In addition, all new relative and non-relative caregivers, foster parents, legal guardians, and adoptive parents are now being approved under the new Resource Family Approval guidelines.)    

Can I be a CASA volunteer if I want to adopt or foster a child?

Many people become CASA volunteers because they are interested in eventually becoming a Resource Family (formerly called foster/adoptive parent).  However, you may not be a CASA volunteer while you are an approved Resource Family (even if there are no currently approved children living in your home) or while you seek an adoption through the County of Los Angeles, as both are conflicts of interest to CASA service.  If you are a former foster parent or your adoption process has closed, you are welcome to apply to the CASA program. 

Can I attend a CASA information session if I am not yet 21?

Yes.  While you must be at least 21 years old to begin service as a CASA volunteer, anyone may attend an information session.  If you are nearing your 21st birthday, you are welcome to attend an information session to get started in the application process. 

I may get a new job or graduate from school soon. Should I wait to apply?

Possibly.  It depends whether your schedule will allow you to make your CASA commitment a priority.  CASA does ask for a two-year minimum commitment of our volunteers, and the consistency that is provided by a CASA volunteer is incredibly important for the young people we serve.  Please call 323.859.2888 or email volunteer@casala.org and we will be happy to discuss your individual situation.     

I work full time Monday through Friday and it isn’t easy for me to get away from work. Does this mean I can’t be a CASA volunteer?

Not necessarily!  Many of our CASA volunteers work full time, though it is important to have some flexibility in your schedule.  As a CASA volunteer you can expect to spend an average of about 15 hours a month working on your case, including time spent on the following activities: visiting with the child; participating in meetings and court hearings; communicating with professionals, family members, and caregivers; and documenting your visits and advocacy progress in your child’s electronic file.  Many of these activities are self-scheduled, but some do require daytime flexibility.  As one example, CASA volunteers participate in monthly coaching/supervisory sessions with their Advocate Supervisor.  These sessions happen during the hours of 8 AM to 5 PM at least once a month.

We ask that CASA volunteers always be present at court hearings and actively attend meetings whenever possible.  Hearings (at least every six months) are held during the day, as are most meetings with professionals.  In most cases, meetings are scheduled with sufficient advance notice, but you may need to plan for flexing your work time or shifting your schedule by a couple hours (about once a month) to allow for a meeting during typical business hours.  We recommend that you discuss this opportunity with your employer.  Many employers are very supportive after learning more about the program.

I like to travel. Can I still be a CASA volunteer?

Yes!  Unless you will be away frequently and for long durations (one month or more), your vacation or travel plans are not likely to interfere with your advocacy. 

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to volunteer?

No.  You will need a CA ID or driver license.  All of our volunteers are required to pass a background check.

Do I need a California driver license?

For volunteers who transport children or drive on behalf of the organization, CASA of LA requires verification of a valid California driver license and automobile liability coverage, which satisfies the requirements under California law.  In rare cases (e.g. if an applicant is not a CA resident), CASA of LA will accept an out-of-state driver license.  Please check the California DMV’s website for more information about licenses and residency.  We will need a CA ID card to process the local security clearance, if you are a resident of CA but do not have a driver license.

What if I don’t have a vehicle?

CASA volunteers may visit a variety of locations throughout Los Angeles County and should be prepared to get to these locations as necessary.  If you don’t have your own vehicle, you will need access to reliable transportation and automobile liability coverage or otherwise have a plan for how you will get to different places as part of your advocacy work. 

If I’ve already had a background check and been fingerprinted, will I need to do it again for CASA/LA?

Yes.  We are not able to see the results of any previous background checks you’ve gone through and must perform a new check so we can directly receive and review the results.  Background checks and fingerprinting are required for all volunteers new to CASA/LA, as well as for all active CASA volunteers every four years.

I have a DUI/wet reckless conviction on my record. Will this affect my eligibility?

Eligibility would be determined on a case by case basis.  CASA of Los Angeles’ insurance policy will not cover you if you have had a major moving violation, such as a DUI or wet reckless, within the past four years.  This means that as a CASA volunteer, you would not be able to drive on behalf of the organization or transport your youth until four years have passed since the conviction date.  You would be required to sign an agreement acknowledging this in advance of being paired with a child.

What does CASA of LA’s background check process consist of?

We thoroughly screen all applicants for the CASA volunteer position.  The process of initial and subsequent background screening includes:

1. Fingerprinting (Live Scan)
2. Personal interviews
3. Reference checks
4. Social Security number verification
5. A local security clearance, which requires a valid CA ID (e.g. driver license)
6. Criminal records (including, but not limited to the local court, CA Department of Justice (DOJ),and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI))
7. National Sex Offender Registry
8. Child abuse registries (e.g. Child Abuse Central Index)
9. DMV records
10. Any other investigation that CASA deems appropriate.

All applicants must submit the required information and authorize a release of information related to the above listed background checks.  We will not be able to move forward with an application without this information.

I may have a misdemeanor or felony on my criminal record. Would this make me ineligible?

Criminal history does not necessarily disqualify you from service.  Please note: any applicant found to have been convicted of, or having charges pending for a felony or misdemeanor involving a sex offense, child abuse or neglect, or related acts that would pose risks to children or the CASA program’s credibility will not be accepted as a CASA volunteer.  In other cases, eligibility will be based on the date and nature of the offense, as well as surrounding circumstances.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 323.859.2888 to discuss your situation. 

I completed training to be a CASA volunteer/GAL in another county. Will I need to go through training again?

Yes.  All volunteers new to CASA of LA must complete our entire training, as program specifics and training requirements may vary from other regions.

Can my friend/spouse and I do this together?

Yes!  CASA of LA allows people to work as teams on cases together.  In that situation, two CASA volunteers would be paired to work with at least two children. 

I am not computer savvy and don’t use e-mail or the Internet. Will this be a problem?

Maybe.  To be a CASA volunteer you will need to be reasonably adept at using a computer.  A computer will be needed to complete the application, to undertake the online components of our pre-service training, to document visits and progress on advocacy work monthly in the child’s electronic case file, to complete court reports, and to communicate by email with professionals and parties to the case during your CASA service.  In addition, the Monthly Buzz, our newsletter for volunteers, is distributed via email—as are invitations to other CASA events!

We do offer technical support for issues in this area that may arise during your advocacy.

Will I get to choose the gender and age of the child(ren) I work with?

Not necessarily.  Case assignment is based on need.  Though we do ask for your preferences around age and gender, we also ask that you be as open-minded and flexible as possible when it comes to who you work with.  CASA provides support through a dedicated advocate supervisor and we also provide frequent opportunities to increase your knowledge and skills in areas where you have little to no experience.

I’d like to advocate for a particular child. How do I make this request?

We do not assign CASA volunteers to advocate for a child with whom a relationship already exists.  This is to help ensure objectivity, as well as the integrity of the CASA program. 

Can I advocate for a child who lives close to my home or work?

Maybe.  Case assignment is based on need, not location.  We ask that you be as open-minded and flexible as possible, as it is not unusual for children in foster care to change home placements frequently.

Does the two-year commitment apply to everyone?

Yes.  We ask that all CASA volunteers, regardless of their situation, commit to volunteering with us for a minimum of two years. 

I am seeking an internship. Does the CASA volunteer role qualify for my internship?

The specific requirements for your internship will be determined by your class or program.  You should determine whether or not serving as a CASA volunteer would qualify, though past experience has demonstrated that it frequently does not.  Importantly, internships tend to be for less than a two year period and CASA does require a two year commitment of all Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers.

Are there other ways to help if I’m not eligible to be a CASA volunteer right now?

Our greatest need is for more Court Appointed Special Advocates.  If you are not eligible or able to become a CASA volunteer at this time, please call 323.859.2888 or email volunteer@casala.org to inquire about general volunteer opportunities.  If you would like to make a financial donation, you can go to www.casala.org/donate-money. There are many ways to give…for more information, please contact Dan Hanley at dhanley@casala.org.

For other frequently asked questions about the CASA volunteer role, please visit https://casala.org/frequently-asked-questions/.

For other questions concerning eligibility, please email volunteer@casala.org or call 323.859.2888.