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Become a Volunteer
Court Appointed Special Advocate

Everyday People in Tulare County Can Become

Extraordinary Heroes For Youth and Children in Foster Care.

The World Needs
More Heroes

258

Active Advocates

12,000

Advocate Hours

No superpowers required. Just a powerful voice to speak up for children and youth in foster care.

You form strong bonds through outings, spending time together, and listening. When these children face challenges in life or in court, you can be there with kindness, support, and hope for the future. Become a voice for the voiceless. 

Become a CASA Hero of Hope!

368

Youth Served

0-21

Ages We Serve

Interested in becoming a CASA Advocate?

What Is a 
Court Appointed Special Advocate?

A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, someone who stands up for the children who otherwise are unable to voice their needs themselves. Imagine the experience of children who are removed from their home, their family, their siblings, and everything they know and care about. They find themselves in a world filled with social workers, lawyers, judges and courtrooms where life-altering decisions are made on their behalf.

CASA of Tulare County recruits, trains and supports community volunteers who advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in our community. CASA volunteers build relationships with the children they advocate for, by meeting regularly with them. As they get to know their CASA children, they make observations, and write reports directly to the judge with recommendations for what’s in the child’s best interests.

CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. No special education, experience or background is needed. Each volunteer's life experiences bring something unique to enrich a child's life. 

 

We get cases moving through the child welfare system and advocate strongly to help ensure each child is in a secure, safe home. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, therapists, caregivers, and anyone else involved in the child’s life in order to make independent and informed recommendations to help the judge decide what’s best for the child.

 

In Tulare County, CASA volunteers serve as a sworn advocate of the court, entitled to access information about the child's situation and required to make reports to the court in the child's best interest. Our program succeeds with help from dedicated staff, caring volunteers and generous donors like you.

A few hours of your time each week can make a world of difference to one of these children.

CASA volunteers are ordinary people who do extraordinary things for Tulare County's most vulnerable children. Be One!

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Requirements of Becoming a CASA

As a CASA volunteer, there are certain requirements you must meet prior to actually being appointed a case with a foster child.

A CASA volunteer is required to:

  • Be 21 years of age or older

  • Attend a one-hour CASA orientation.

  • Complete a Volunteer Application.

  • Participate in a screening interview with CASA staff.

  • Successfully pass a criminal background check and provide documentation of a safe driving record.

  • Attend all training sessions and scheduled court tours.

  • Complete 10 hours of online coursework in CASA University.

  • Participate in a final interview with a Case Coordinator

  • Participate in a swearing-in ceremony conducted by the presiding Tulare County Juvenile Court Judge, where you become an officer of the court and mandated child abuse reporter.

  • Meet with your CASA Case Coordinator to receive your case assignment and to schedule an introduction to the child and other parties involved in the case.

Once sworn in by the court, as a CASA volunteer, you now will:

  • Spend quality time with the child or children you are appointed to.

  • Communicate regularly with the child(ren)’s parents, relatives, teachers, doctors, therapists, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life.

  • Serve as a fact finder for the Juvenile Court judge by thoroughly researching the background of the assigned case.

  • Attend monthly Continuing Education training.

  • Participate in case meetings and review case files.

  • Gather and document information on your case.

  • Formulate recommendations on what is in the best interest of the children.

  • Submit a court report and present your recommendations to the judge in the courtroom.

  • Speak on behalf of the child in the courtroom, representing his or her best interests.

 
What other information should I be aware of
when becoming a CASA Volunteer?

Again, you must be at least 21-years-old or older and be able to pass extensive reference, Child Protective Services, sex offender registry and criminal background checks before becoming a CASA volunteer. 

 

Volunteers should have effective oral and written communication skills and comfort with computer technology including email and word processing. 

 

You may not be a current foster parent or be in the process of adopting a child from Child Protective Services. 

 

If an attorney, you may not concurrently be appointed to any cases involving Child Protective Services in Tulare County.

Overwhelmed?
 

You're not alone! CASA of Tulare County provides ongoing training and support for every volunteer. Each volunteer is assigned a case supervisor who serves as a resource for the volunteer every step of the way.

Ready To Start Your Journey As a CASA Superhero?

What Does A CASA Do?

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CASA/GAL volunteers advocate for

the best interests of children who

have experienced abuse or neglect.

Here's what that means.

LEARN

Learn all you can about the child and his or her family and life.

ENGAGE

Engage with the child during regular visits.

COLLABORATE

Collaborate with others to ensure that necessary services are provided and are in the child's best interest

REPORT

Report what you have learned

and observed to the court.

RECOMMEND

Speak up for the child's best interests in court. Make recommendations regarding the child's placement and needed services, and monitor the child's situation until the case is released by the court.

CASA/GAL 
Best-Interest Advocacy

Court-Appointed Special Advocate Training Schedule

Training to become a court-appointed special advocate consists of 20 hours of classroom instruction plus 10 hours of independent study through CASA University for a total of 30 hours. Training takes place in person in our Visalia office, with course material taught by community partners and experts in a variety of child-focused instruction.

CASA of Tulare County Offers Two Programs To Meet Your Needs.

Traditional Training

Held four times per year, our Traditional programs are spread over the course of five weeks, with classes meeting two evenings per week for two hours per session. Students in our south county communities can join the classes online or at our Porterville office.

Accelerated Training

New in 2023, our fast-track path to advocacy takes place over just four days, on back-to-back weekends. Each class is five hours and covers the exact same material that is covered in our Traditional programs.

Before going into training, however, it's important that you attend a Screening Interview. This time that you spend with a CASA Training Coordinator is important because we discuss our expectations as you begin this journey, the requirements to become a sworn advocate, and gauge the highly emotional and confidential experiences you may encounter as a CASA Volunteer.

 

The journey to becoming a court-appointed special advocate is both life changing and life affirming, because we know that the children we work with will benefit greatly from your friendship, your support and your time. Just as important, you will gain the personal satisfaction of helping a child today and making a difference for years to come.

Our 2023 Advocate Training Schedule appears below. We are sure you will find a class option that fits your busy lifestyle. 

Download the 2023 Advocate Training Schedules

CASA of Tulare County
Visalia Location

1146 N Chinowth Street

Visalia, CA 93291

CALL US: 559-625-4007

CASA of Tulare County
Porterville Location

93 N Main St., Suite C

Porterville, CA 93257

CALL US: 559-625-4007

JUVENILE DEPENDENCY PROCESS

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DETENTION HEARING: WIC 319, CRC 5.666-5.680

Presumption: The minor shall be released to the parents unless legal grounds are established to temporarily detain the minor

Burden of Proof: Prima Facie evidence (evidence which suffices until contradicted).

Burden of Production: The Government.

Timelines: A minor may be detained in protective custody for 15 days pending a jurisdictional hearing.

JURISDICTIONAL HEARING: WIC 300, 350, 355.1 CRC 5.682-5.684

Presumption: Unexplained non-accidental serious injuries while in the care/custody of parent are presumed to be the result of abuse or neglect.

Burden of Proof:Preponderance of evidence that petition is true.

Burden of Production: The Government.

Timelines: 15 days after the Detention hearing if child is out of home, 30 days if child remains home.

DISPOSITIONAL HEARING: WIC 360-362.6 CRC 5.690-5.705

Presumption: None

Placement: The minor shall be placed in the custody of the parents unless clear and convincing evidence of detriment. If the court removes a minor from a custodial parent:

  • The minor will be placed with a previously non-custodial parent unless such placement would be detrimental.

  • Preferential consideration for placement will be given to a request by certain reletaives.

Reunification: Parents will usually receive reunification serices.

Burden of Proof: Clear and convincing evidence of substantial risk of danger to child in order to remove from parent's custody.

Timelines: 10 days after the jurisdictional hearing if child is out of home. 30 days if child remains at home or if government seeks to deny reunification serices.

SIX-MONTH REVIEW HEARING: WIC 364, 366.21, 366.22 CRC 5.715

Presumptions: 

  • The minor shall be returned to the parents unless there is substantial risk to the minor's physical or emotional well being or when the parents have failed to participate regularly in any Court ordered treatment programs.

  • If the minor remained home, terminate dependency unless continued supervision is necessary.

Burden of Proof: Preponderance of evidence. (If the government wants to terminate Reunification Services,must be clear and convincing evidence).

Burden of Production: The Government

Timelines: 6 months from the "entry into foster care". "Entry into foster care" is defined as date of Jurisdictional Hearing or 60 days after initial removal, whichever comes first.

12 MO. PERMANENCY HEARING: WIC 364, 366.21(f)(g), CRC 5.715

Presumptions: 

  • The minor shall be returned to the parents unless there is substantial risk to the minor's physical or emotional well being or when the parents have failed to participate regularly in any Court ordered treatment programs.

  • If the minor remained home, terminate dependency unless continued supervision is necessary.

  • When minor is not returned to the parents, services will be terminated unless there is a substantial probability that the minor will be returnedto the custody of the parents within six months or unless reasonable services have not been provided. 

Burden of Proof: Preponderance of evidence, to determine if detrimental for child to return home. Clear and convincing evidence to determine if reasonable services were provided.

Burden of Production: The Government

Timelines: 12 months from the "entry into foster care". "Entry into foster care" is defined as date of Jurisdictional Hearing or 60 days after initial removal, whichever comes first.

18 MO. PERMANENCY REVIEW HEARING: WIC 366.22, CRC 5.720

Presumptions: 

  • The minor shall be returned to the parents unless there is substantial risk to the minor's physical or emotional well being or when the parents have failed to participate regularly in any Court ordered treatment programs.

  • If the minor remained home, terminate dependency unless continued supervision is necessary.

Burden of Proof: Preponderance of evidence.

Burden of Production: The Government

Timelines: In no event later than 18 months after the Detention Hearing.

SELECTION AND IMPLEMENTATION HEARING: WIC 366.26, CRC 5.725-5.735

Presumptions: If the minor is adoptable, parental rights will be terminated unless adopt6ion would be detrimental to the child.

Burden of Proof: Clear and convincing evidence that the minor child will be adopted.

Burden of Production: The Government

Timelines: 120 days from Order Terminating Reunification Services.

POST PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARING: WIC 366.3, CRC 5.740

This hearing determines if progress is being made to find a permanent home for the child and if the case can be dismissed. 

Presumption: Continued out of home care is in the best interest of the child.

Burden of Proof: Usually preponderance of evidence.

Burden of Production: On anyone proposing a change.

Timelines: Every six months unti case is dismissed.

FRESNO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, JUVENILE DEPENDENCY DIVISION

Revised August 2008

Need fun idea's to take your kids somewhere nearby?
Take a look at the map below for places you can go with your kid!

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