Douglas County, Kansas

Become a CASA Volunteer and Change a Child’s Life — Here’s How!

October 25, 2022

At any given time, an average of 165 children in Douglas County live in temporary foster placements after being removed from homes where they have experienced abuse or neglect. These children must wait an average of 3 years for a safe and permanent home. Meanwhile, sadly, new reports of abuse and neglect result in more kids entering the system every day. 

The foster system is overburdened, and children in Kansas need help. 

“It’s just not a system that can respond to children’s needs,” says CASA volunteer Dave Ranney. “It’s too big, and there are too many of them.” 

At Douglas County CASA, we recruit, train, and support volunteers who form trusting relationships with these children and speak up for them inside and outside the courtroom, providing dedicated, one-on-one attention and support while they wait for safe, permanent homes. 

We’re deeply grateful for our volunteers, but we need more; many children in the child welfare system lack the support of a CASA volunteer and are forced to navigate the system on their own.

What Is a CASA Volunteer?

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (or "CASA") is a trained volunteer advocate for a child or sibling set in the child welfare system who is experiencing change and uncertainty while waiting to be placed in a safe, permanent home. CASA volunteers are adults committed to ensuring each child's needs remain prioritized in an overburdened system. They are supported every step of the way by Douglas County CASA’s paid, professional staff who have backgrounds in law and social work and decades of experience supervising volunteer advocates.

Once a CASA volunteer is sworn in on a child's case, they are also given the authority to investigate the child’s living situation, family history, and the challenges they face. They can talk to a child’s parents, teachers, doctors, and therapists. CASA volunteers investigate the facts of the case, coordinate with any adults involved in the child’s life, consider how the child’s best interest might be served, and accurately communicate the child's situation and desires to the judge. Their focused attention on only one child or sibling group at a time means that those children who have experienced abuse and neglect won’t fall through the cracks in the child welfare system.

Who Can Become a CASA Volunteer?

If you’re an adult in Douglas County, there’s a good chance you’re qualified to become a CASA volunteer — and we hope you apply. CASA volunteers don’t need specialized backgrounds or prior knowledge of the child welfare system. They just have to be adults dedicated to making a difference in a child's life. With the support of a CASA Volunteer, 95% of children who have experienced abuse and neglect stay out of long-term foster care, and 90% never re-enter the child welfare system again

“[The] main benefit of a CASA is individual attention to that child or that family that no one else can give them,” says one CASA Volunteer. “The courts certainly can’t give individual attention, nor can the attorneys, the social workers, the therapists. But the CASA is there for that one particular family, and that can make all the difference in the world.” 

Being a constant, caring adult presence in a child’s life can make a tremendous difference as they navigate the tumultuous child welfare system. For people who volunteer with CASA, making an impact in the lives of children in need is a fulfilling endeavor that few have the opportunity to experience. 

With full support from Douglas County CASA staff, volunteers have the training and resources they need to make a long-lasting difference in children's lives. 

You can become a CASA volunteer — here’s what it takes!

Check out this step-by-step infographic!

Step One - Request a 1:1 consultation.

Our recruitment team is eager to meet one-on-one with anyone interested in learning about CASA. We aren’t here to talk you into anything, only to make sure you know everything you need to determine if child advocacy volunteer work is right for you. Fill out our volunteer interest form, and a member of our team will reach out to you to coordinate a time to meet. 

Step Two - Submit an online application.  

The next step to becoming a CASA is filling out an online application. Potential volunteers will need to provide contact, residency, and employment information and list any languages spoken in addition to English. CASA Volunteers are a diverse group of adults with work experience in many industries. No legal or child advocacy experience is necessary. You will be asked to provide four nonfamilial references, so have their names, phone numbers, and email addresses ready to submit.

Step Three - Schedule an in-person interview.

Once your application has been reviewed, someone from Douglas County CASA will contact you to schedule an in-person interview. During the interview, you will be asked about your background and interest in becoming a CASA Volunteer, and you will also get to ask any questions you might have.

Step Four - Consent to a background check.

Once you and CASA have decided that child advocacy volunteer work is a good fit for you, CASA will ask for personal identifiers, including height, weight, birthdate, and any criminal history. This information is necessary for a background check and will not be shared with anyone outside the application process. The background investigation conducted by CASA will include the collection of fingerprints to run local, state, and national criminal record checks and to confirm the information provided in your application.

Step Five - Attend our training series.

We provide training on how to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate every few months (or whenever a new volunteer class is assembled). As soon as the steps above are complete, you will be eligible to register for our training series, where we will prepare you to work as a CASA volunteer. Training sessions cover topics such as the legalities of the child welfare system, family dynamics in environments of poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, cultural competence, educational advocacy, permanency planning, community resources, state laws and regulations, the juvenile court process, and other subjects relevant to conducting CASA duties and using our online system.

Step Six - Success! You’re sworn in and assigned as a CASA volunteer!

CASA Volunteers work on behalf of the court, so after completing the background check and training components, you will be certified as a CASA with our program. You will then have the opportunity to select from three to five cases. Once you agree to take a particular case, you will be sworn-in and assigned by a judge as an official Court Appointed Special Advocate. You can then have your first visit with the child(ren), where you will begin building a relationship and making a difference. 

By supporting CASA, you are helping a child in the foster system experience some stability during an extremely challenging time in their life and see what is possible when they have a caring adult in their corner they can trust. With the full support of Douglas County CASA’s staff every step of the way, you will have the structure, tools, and expertise you need to become an effective volunteer advocate and give a child hope for a more stable future.  

Become a CASA volunteer and make a difference in a vulnerable child’s life today!

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Change a life with CASA

At any given time, there are 165 children from Douglas County in the child welfare system due to abuse and neglect. Help us help those children who are still waiting for a CASA volunteer.