“I consider my volunteer time valuable, so I don't like to waste time doing things that don't matter.
That is why I work with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. They serve an population of children who are going through probably the hardest time of their lives as foster children, and it's a privilege to come along side the children to encourage them and support them, and it does make a difference to the children.
The staff at CASV are all very professional, helpful, and encouraging."
– Gaylene Austin, CASA Volunteer and Mentor
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a volunteer who is a positive and supportive person to a child in the Santa Clara County foster care system. Child Advocates of Silicon Valley is a member of the National CASA organization, a network of nearly 1,000 local community programs supporting children in the foster care system who have experienced abuse and neglect.
Who can be a CASA volunteer?
Our volunteers are dedicated, trustworthy and compassionate people who are willing to serve as officers of the court and mentor a foster child in Santa Clara County. No special skills are required to be a CASA, but each CASA must have the desire and commitment to mentor an abused or neglected child. CASAs must be 21 years or older and pass a background check. Hundreds of foster children are waiting for a CASA.
How much time do CASA volunteers spend with their kids?
About 10-12 hours a month split between 3-4 visits is the average for our volunteers. Around twice a year CASAs submit reports to the court and attend a court hearing regarding the child. In order to ensure stability and constancy for the children we serve, CASAs are asked for a commitment of 12 months with a child. Some cases are shorter, some are longer.
How do I get started?
Attend a Volunteer Info Session. This is your chance to learn more about the program, hear CASAs share their experiences and ask hard questions. At the info session, you can sign up for a 90 minute interview with a staff specialist, and if that goes well, we'll prepare you with over 30 hours of evening trainings with a group of 30-50 other volunteers. After you are sworn-in as an officer of the court, you will work with one of our specialists to choose a teen or child to work with. The whole process usually takes about 3 months to complete, but that time-frame gives us and you the time we need to ensure this role is the best possible fit.
Do I choose my advocate child?
Yes. Our staff will get to know what age, gender, and interests you prefer and then you'll sit down, read the children’s profiles, and choose a child.
What kind of training do I receive to prepare me to help my advocate child with any challenges they experience?
CASA trainees receive 30 hours (nine sessions) of initial training and 12 hours of additional training each year from professionals working in child welfare.
Once I'm assigned a child, where do I go for help with their case?
Our CASA specialists and mentors are trained professionals with experience in everything from special education support to addressing domestic violence to mental health evaluation. Your support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How do I know if being a CASA is right for me?
99% of our volunteers say they are satisfied with their volunteer experience -- and many describe it as life-changing. But being a CASA is a major commitment: 10+ hours a month, 2 days in court a year, and monthly reports. If you want to make a difference for a child in need and know this is the right way to do it: please sign-up for our upcoming Volunteer Info Session to meet other CASAs, get detailed information on the joys and challenges of this role, and ask your questions of our volunteers and staff. There is no commitment involved in attending and this event is free.