How much time does being a CASA involve?
January 24, 2008 12:49 PM   Subscribe

How much time does being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for children) really involve? This relates to Seattle/King County.

I'm getting some information on volunteering to be a CASA in King County, WA, and seemingly the only thing I can't really put my hands on is how much of a time commitment this realistically is, and if it can be done while working a standard 8-5 job.

If you have any personal experience/anecdotes about the amount of time you devote to your CASA/guardian ad litem duties, I'd love to hear it. It sounds like its own full time job, to me, and I worry that unavailability during the workday is going to be a major hurdle.
posted by tristeza to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who has worked with CASA. I know she is able to do it because she is retired, and she does have to do things like schedule interviews at 2pm on a tuesday, because that is the only time she can meet with a parent, etc. Also she has had to go to the courts during their hours of operation, which would mean you would have to take time off from work to do so yourself.

Also, don't forget to factor in that you will have to protect your personal information and may have some parents who will be very unhappy and consider you responsible for their child being taken from them.

CASA is a great org. and it does need volunteers, but I would suggest giving them a call and being upfront about the time you can commit to the organization. They may be able to find something for you to do for them, but it may not be doing interviews and writing case reports.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2008

I went through the screening process and was poised to become a CASA volunteer (in the Midwest) when I unfortunately had to move out of state.

I can't help you with the time that might be involved with volunteering, but I know most of the CASA volunteers in my town tended to be retirees. While I do not have any personal anecdotes to share, I do remember that when I signed up, they told me that I should invest in self-defense/verbal judo classes. However, I am a woman with a slender build and am probably not that physically intimidating, but YMMV.

CASA is, like mrzarquon said, a great organization and I don't want to discourage you from volunteering. I second his advice that you should call CASA and ask about how much time volunteering would require. Best of luck!
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2008

Yeah, I'm definitely going to call, just thought that folks who had actually done it and weren't trying to recruit might be more realistic! :)
posted by tristeza at 3:33 PM on January 24, 2008

My mother works full-time, takes a college class, is highly active on the Clinton Campaign, is president of our community's branch of NOW, and still finds time to take on two CASA clients.

It will be stressful, but it is possible, especially if you do not have children of your own to attend to.
posted by thelastpolarbear at 4:33 PM on January 24, 2008

I am a current CASA in California with one advocate child, a teenage girl.

I love being a CASA and would recommend that you look into it; however, I will say that sometimes I do feel that the time commitment is more than I anticipated. I have looked at the caller ID on my phone or had something pop up in my inbox and thought "Oh please go away - I do NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS RiGHT NOW." And where most of that comes from, most frustratingly, is in dealing with things FOR the child but not actually the time I spend with her which has been uniformly wonderful.

My experience is limited to just this one case but I can tell you that in the 6 months since I was appointed to this case, I have spent approximately 15-18 hours each month on it (I know because I just submitted my court report and did all the math) with an estimate of about 2/3rds of that with the child directly and the rest on reports, meetings at her school, talking to her foster mom, social worker, etc. Some of that is time I can schedule whenever I want but sometimes the phone rings and I feel I just need to deal with it right then, even if it is inconvenient. I don't know if I approach the work the same as other CASAs do.

I work a normal job and have taken time off from work for meetings and have answered calls and emails while at work. My company is VERY supportive of my work as a CASA. I think it would be possible to do it even if I had to schedule things around a job that didn't allow me to take that time but it would perhaps be harder. For example, I have gone on meetings at her school and possibly I could schedule them at lunch but if I worked far away from where she was it would be hard to do it in an hour.

For me, this is the level of time commitment I feel is necessary for this case - other cases I may take later could vary. I do sometimes wonder if the time required for younger children might be less or more. I really have no idea. The one thing that freaked me out at first, but could work in your favor, is that you can pick your case so you could ask to be assigned to a case that would take less time or be more in line with your own schedule. It's hard to predict though, I think. I have heard that "visiting CASAs" have a different kind of time commitment than a regular one - so possibly ask about that.

There isn't much more I can say about my case but I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have - my email is in my profile. I'm traveling for work right now but will answer as much and as soon as I can. Being a CASA has been a good experience for me so far, but not without its frustrations.
posted by marylynn at 2:37 AM on January 25, 2008

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