CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

What is a CASA Volunteer?

Nearly 1,900 Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) serve as the voice of more than 5,000 foster children in Oregon's court systems. While this is an astounding number, hundreds more volunteers are needed throughout the state of Oregon in order to serve all children in need.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for abused and neglected children, making sure they don’t get lost in the legal and social service system. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused and neglected children, their CASA volunteer may be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

What do Volunteer Advocates do?

Oregon has some of the strongest CASA legislation in the country, giving volunteers full legal authority to engage in the court system on behalf of their assigned cases. They investigate case facts and make recommendations to the Juvenile Judge regarding a range of issues related to the child's well being, most notably the best option for a safe and permanent home.

Volunteers spend much of their time interviewing the child and the adults involved in the case, including family members, foster parents, caseworkers, lawyers, teachers, medical professionals, and others. They submit written reports to the court outlining their findings and recommendations, as well as attend case-related meetings and court hearings, always speaking up in the best interests of the child.

Who can be a Volunteer Advocate?

Anyone can apply to be a CASA volunteer--volunteers need not be an attorney, social worker, or have any previous child welfare experience. Volunteers are diverse and include college students, stay-at-home parents, full- and part-time working adults, and retirees. But what they all have in common is a passion for the welfare of children; a belief that abuse and neglect has no place in the home; and an understanding that children who witness or experience abuse and neglect are forever affected.

CASAs are thoroughly trained and receive ongoing support from professional staff in local programs throughout Oregon. Volunteers must pass a background check, participate in pre-service training, and agree to stay with a case until it is closed.

Where in Oregon are Volunteer Advocates needed?

Oregon is the home to 26 individual CASA programs serving 35 of the state's 36 counties as well as the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Volunteers are needed in every jurisdiction. Contact the local CASA program serving your county for more information or reach out to Brandi Bergkvist, 503-725-5904, Oregon Volunteers' CASA Grants Coordinator.

Are there other types of volunteer opportunities available with CASA?

CASA programs across Oregon recruit volunteers to assist with fundraising, special events, administrative tasks, and more. Again, contact the local CASA program serving your county for more information or reach out to Brandi Bergkvist, 503-725-5904, Oregon Volunteers' CASA Grants Coordinator.

How can a CASA Volunteer Advocate be requested for a child?

If you know a child in need of a CASA, contact the local CASA program in the jurisdiction of the child's abuse and neglect case. The local program will be able to provide guidance.

How does Oregon Volunteers support CASA?

Oregon Volunteers administers state funding appropriated by the legislature to support local CASA programs, provides training and technical assistance, and works closely with the Oregon CASA Network to insure quality standards in CASA programming throughout the state.

Snapshot of CASA in Oregon during FY 2015-2016

  • 1881 volunteer advocates
  • 5034 children served
  • 301,825 volunteer hours donated
  • 26 programs reaching all four corners of the state
  • 132 local CASA program employees

Additional Resources

Oregon CASA Network, an organization comprised of 26 local CASA programs that recruit, train and support volunteers to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings.

National CASA Association, an organization of approximately 1,000 state and local CASA programs.

2015-16 Annual Report for Oregon CASA Programs compiled by the Oregon CASA Network.

Oregon Law covering duties, immunity, access to information, funding and rules of CASA.