Below are some of the most frequently asked questions. Should you have additional questions, please feel free to give us a call at (402) 340-3185 or drop by our regional office located at 115 North 5th Street in downtown O’Neill.
What is CASA?
CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates. In some programs, the volunteer advocates assume the role of a lay Guardian ad litem (GAL). The first CASA program was created in 1977 by Seattle Judge David Soukup.
Who are CASA volunteers?
CASA volunteers are trained advocates assigned to report to the court on behalf of a child who has been a victim of abuse or neglect. Volunteers come from all walks of life, all ages and diversities, and many work at full-time jobs. Every CASA volunteer receives training and support from regional CASA program staff, who have professional backgrounds in the legal and child welfare fields.
Where do I send my CASA volunteer application?
Mail your application to 115 N 5th St, PO Box 326, O’Neill, NE 68763. For additional information, please call the regional CASA program office at (402) 340-3185.
How are CASA volunteers screened?
National CASA/GAL Association for Children Local Program Standards require that all staff and volunteers submit an application and pass a screening process that includes a background check search of national and state criminal records, state child protective services records, and sex offender registries. A personal interview and reference check are also required. Members of our Board of Directors are required to pass the same background checks as a CASA volunteer.
How are CASA volunteers trained?
New CASA volunteers receive a minimum of 30 hours of pre-service training. These trainings often utilize the National CASA/GAL Association for Children Volunteer Training Curriculum, a thorough collection of information vital to working within the juvenile court system and understanding the complexities of the social service system as well as the dynamics of child abuse and neglect.
In 2012, National CASA/GAL Association for Children introduced a FLEX training program option, which local programs can offer. Participants in the FLEX training program complete part of the pre-service training online and part in person. CASA volunteers are also required to complete at least 12 hours of ongoing training per year to stay current on information vital to their roles.
Am I at risk volunteering?
In the more than 25 years that CASA programs have existed in Nebraska, there have been no issues concerning the safety of its volunteers. All CASA volunteers are trained to handle various situations involving families and friends. And, the staff of CASA of NorthCentral Nebraska is always willing to help with ideas.
Can the children come home with me?
Although creating relationships and getting to know the children you work with are important parts of your role as a CASA volunteer, bringing the children to your home is not allowed. There are several other ways in which you can build a relationship with the children, which are discussed in the training sessions. And, the staff of CASA of NorthCentral Nebraska is always willing to help with ideas.
What is the role of a CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The following are the primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer:
- Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members, and professionals in their lives.
- Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.
- Appear in court: Advocate for the child’s best interests and provide testimony when necessary.
- Explain what is going on: Help the child understand the court proceedings.
- “Be the glue”: Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children’s lives. As one volunteer said, be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
- Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their families are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child’s health, education, mental health, etc., to the appropriate professionals.
- Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held.
- Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members. Ensure that appropriate motions are filed on behalf of the child so the court knows about any changes in the child’s situation.
What can I donate?
Any level of monetary gift is extremely appreciated and will help us meet the needs of more abused and neglected children. Feel free to call the CASA of NorthCentral Nebraska office to learn more about the specific needs of the organization.
Where do I send donations?
All donations can be sent to or dropped off at: 115 North 5th Street, P.O. Box 326, O’Neill, NE 68763.