Who is a CASA?
Court Appointed Special Advocates are community volunteers trained to represent the best interests of children who are part of the court system due to abuse or neglect. As a CASA, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life during this uncertain time.
Advocates are assigned their first case after 30 hours of training. This training consists of class time, reading, courtroom observation, and shadowing a seasoned volunteer on a visit. Once training is completed, advocates have the support of the Director and other volunteers as they work their case.
CASAs average 5 hours a month on their cases. They must be available to attend court hearings approximately once every three months and team meetings approximately once a month. CASAs are also required to complete at least 12 hours of in-service training per year.
A History of Helping
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA) was founded in 1984 to train volunteers to become court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children in court cases. The nonprofit group, based in Seattle, has 940+ offices and more than 77,000 volunteers in every state but North Dakota (where child advocates are paid professionals).
In 1991, Judge Hugo (Chad) Songer initiated the Dubois County CASA program to advocate for children who had been abused or neglected. This was partially in response to state legislation which mandated a CASA for the most serious Children in Need of Services (CHINS) cases.
In 2005, the state law was changed to require a CASA for all CHINS cases, regardless of severity. The Dubois County CASA program, as it existed at the time, was not prepared to handle the increased caseload. John Siebert agreed to become Director of the CASA Program, where he spearheaded a strong effort to recruit additional CASA volunteers. The effort was largely successful and the Dubois County CASA program expanded to meet the needs of the county. In March of 2007, the Dubois County CASA Program was recognized by the State Office of CASA as a state-certified program in compliance of all standards.
Dubois County CASA Team
Current CASA Volunteers
I volunteer because every child deserves to be heard and have a voice – Sarah Wendholt, Volunteer
We were comfortably retired when we decided it was time to give back to our communities. We chose the CASA program because we both had a desire to help children. As a couple, we have found it to be beneficial to share processes and experiences, as well as to provide support and advice to each other. This is our way of “paying it forward” and the payback in helping children in immeasurable – Lee & Ginny Begle, Volunteers
Wanting change doesn’t make it happen. Just thinking about a child doesn’t impact their life. Volunteering does! If you want good things to happen for the children in our community, volunteer now! – Tammy Warner, Volunteer