Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Proposed Text


Rules Relating to Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA)
Stage: Proposed

6VAC20-160-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall apply unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Active case" means a case that is assigned by the director to a CASA volunteer.

"Advisory Council" means a locally appointed body with a specific purpose to advise the governing body of a local CASA program.

"Board" means the Criminal Justice Services Board.

"CASA" means court-appointed special advocate.

"CASA program" means any locally operated court-appointed special advocate program which utilizes court-appointed volunteers to assist in judicial proceedings involving allegations that a child is abused, neglected, in need of services, or in need of supervision and for whom the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court judge determines such services are appropriate.

"Case" means a child referred to the CASA program. on whom a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge has entered an order of appointment for a CASA Volunteer.

"Closed case" means a case in which the court has released the CASA volunteer or the director has notified the court of their intent to release the case or there has been no volunteer activity for more than 90 days.

"DCJS" means the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

"Director" means the director or coordinator of a local CASA program responsible for the day-to-day operations of the local CASA program.

"Governing board" means the oversight body responsible for the local CASA program.

"Referred case" means a case that is referred by the court but is not assigned by the director to a CASA volunteer.

"Staff advocate" means an employee of the CASA program who serves as the assigned advocate for a case.

"Volunteer" means the court-appointed special advocate.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §1.1, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.

6VAC20-160-20. Boards CASA program governance.

A. If a local CASA program does not have a board of directors, it shall have an advisory board A CASA program shall have a governing board responsible for overseeing the program's operations.

B. The composition of local CASA boards should include representatives of each geographic area served by the program having knowledge of or an interest in court matters, child welfare and juvenile justice issues the CASA program from both public and private sectors.

C. All new board members shall receive board training within six months of their appointment. Training for new board members shall include education about Virginia's CASA programs, mission, goals and objectives with emphasis on board member roles, fiduciary responsibilities and fundraising.

D. A governing board may choose to establish an advisory council to support the CASA program operations. The governing board shall articulate in writing a clearly defined purpose for the advisory council, criteria for selection of members, a defined relationship between the council and the CASA program staff and a clear process for reporting to the governing board.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §2.1, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.

6VAC20-160-30. Recordkeeping and monitoring.

A. CASA programs are required to maintain records of the activities of the CASA program by using CASA Outcomes Management and Evaluation Tool (COMET).

B. CASA programs shall provide quarterly reports on the operation of the CASA program to the Department of Criminal Justice Services DCJS in a format provided prescribed by the department. The CASA quarterly reports shall cover the following periods: July-September; October-December; January-March; April-June. These reports are due on according to a timeline as established by DCJS.

C. The quarterly reports shall include the following:

1. The number of volunteers who completed training during the quarter,  the number currently assigned to cases, the number currently inactive, and the number currently unassigned;

2. The number of volunteer hours and a dollar equivalency for volunteer services for the quarter as prescribed by DCJS;

3. The number of cases served during the quarter including cases opened, closed and continued from previous quarters to ensure unduplicated numbers;

4. Average number of cases per volunteer; if this number exceeds three cases a rationale must be submitted to and approved by DCJS;

5. Breakdown of the types of cases handled during the quarter;

6. Breakdown of the age, sex and race of children served at the time of case assignment;

7. For cases closed during the quarter, the average length of time each case was assigned to the program;

8. For cases closed during the quarter, the average length of time each child was in out-of-home placement while assigned to the program; and

9. The number of new cases referred during the quarter awaiting assignment of a CASA volunteer or denied service due to lack of a CASA volunteer.

D. An annual report (Forms B, C, D and E ) shall be due on C. CASA programs shall provide an annual report on the operation of the program in a format prescribed by the department according to a timeline as established by DCJS. The annual report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

1. An annual statistical summary;

2. A program budget which contains expenditure and income projections and the sources and amounts of income from each source;

3. A narrative detailing the program's accomplishments, major changes in program policy or operation during the past year;

4. A letter from the CASA program's fiscal agent or accountant identifying who is responsible for maintaining the fiscal records, and stating where the fiscal records are routinely kept; and

5. A year-end fiscal statement prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices showing the total cash receipts and disbursements for the CASA program from the past year.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §2.2, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.

6VAC20-160-40. Program and personnel policies.

A. CASA programs shall be in compliance with Standards for National CASA Association (NCASAA) Member Programs.

A. Programs B. CASA programs shall ensure that an attorney is available for CASA directors and boards to provide legal consultation in matters pertaining to administration of the programs.

B. Programs C. CASA programs shall not employ as paid staff any individual who concurrently supervises children-in-need children in need of services, children in need of supervision, or juvenile offender cases, either for the courts or any child serving agencies.

C. Programs D. CASA programs shall write policies on the following and make those written policies available to the respective court:

1. The maximum number of cases to which a volunteer may be assigned at any one time.  If that number is larger than three two children or two sibling groups, a rationale must be submitted to and approved by DCJS.

2. Assignment of CASA staff as an advocate. In the event a CASA supervisor or staff member is required to serve as an advocate, that staff member will serve no more than two children or two sibling groups. If that number is larger than two children or two sibling groups, a rationale must be submitted to and approved by DCJS.

2. 3. The maximum number of volunteers to be supervised by each staff person. The staff-to-volunteer ratio calculated and reported each quarter shall not exceed 1 full-time equivalent staff to 25 30 volunteers who are assigned to active cases. This ratio is reduced according to the number of hours the volunteer supervisor may be assigned to administrative or other responsibilities. A request shall be submitted to DCJS for approval should that ratio exceed 1:30.

3. 4. The review, investigation and handling of any complaints that may be received concerning CASA volunteers, including procedures for the removal of CASA volunteers should dismissal become necessary.

4. 5. The specific factors to be used by the CASA program to accept and prioritize cases for assignment to CASA volunteers.

5. 6. The confidentiality of the records and information to which CASA volunteers will have access, and training volunteers on the importance of confidentiality.

6. 7. The objectives, standards, and conduct for CASA volunteers and the procedures that the CASA program has implemented to evaluate the performance of its volunteers in order to ensure that volunteers are meeting CASA's objectives and standards of conduct.

7. 8. The CASA volunteers' responsibility to report incidents of suspected child abuse and neglect.

8. 9. Concerning CASA investigations, CASA's role and responsibility in assisting the guardian ad litem, and monitoring court order compliance.

9. 10. Compliance with federal laws, including Equal Opportunity Employment, Drug-Free workplace, Smoke-Free workplace, and political activity statements.

D. E. CASA programs shall provide staff capable of managing effective and efficient program operations. The following job descriptions provide for essential CASA program management:

1. The director is responsible for accomplishing organizational goals and all managerial functions.  This staff position requires a degree or equivalent experience in child welfare, public administration, counseling, human services, juvenile justice or law. It is also important that this person have an understanding of and experience with community organization and volunteer program management. Generally the duties and responsibilities of the director include:

a. Conducting or overseeing the recruitment, screening, training, supervision and evaluation of the program volunteers and staff;

b. Developing and maintaining procedures for case recordkeeping; supervising staff and volunteers in completing recordkeeping tasks;

c. Serving as a liaison to the court, to their local board, to local agencies serving children, to DCJS personnel, to the Virginia CASA Network, to the Virginia CASA Association, and to the National CASA Association;

d. Planning for and managing program growth, development and evaluation, including special projects, budgets, annual workplans, and analysis of trends in program services;

e. Representing the program to networks of service providers, and community coalitions dealing with child welfare issues; and

f. Supervising program operations including financial management, risk management, and resource development.

2. Program/volunteer coordinator.  Depending on program size, it may be necessary to designate a staff person having knowledge of or interest in court matters, child welfare and juvenile justice issues who will focus on volunteer recruitment, screening, training, case assignment, and supervision. Generally, the duties and responsibilities of the program/volunteer coordinator include:

a. Developing and distributing volunteer recruitment materials, and conducting presentations on the CASA program for the purpose of recruiting volunteers and increasing community awareness;

b. Screening volunteer applications and conducting interviews to determine the suitability of the applicant for the CASA program;

c. Arranging training for CASA volunteers;

d. Recommending trained volunteers for acceptance into the CASA program;

e. Assigning cases and supervising volunteers;

f. Planning and implementing volunteer recognition events;

g. Evaluating effectiveness of volunteer recruitment, training, and case assignment; and

h. Conducting annual written evaluations of each CASA volunteer.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §2.3, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.

6VAC20-160-80. Code of ethics.

A. CASA volunteers should conduct themselves in a professional manner, adhering to a code of ethics which that is consistent with ethical principles established by local, state or national guidelines.

B. A CASA volunteer should not become inappropriately involved in the case by providing direct service delivery to any parties that could (i) lead to conflict of interest or liability or (ii) cause a child or family to become dependent on the CASA volunteer for services which that should be provided by other agencies or organizations.

C. CASA volunteers should develop a general understanding of the code of ethics of other professionals with whom the CASA volunteer will be working.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §3.4, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.

6VAC20-160-100. Screening.

A. Prior to being sworn in, CASA volunteers shall successfully complete screening procedures, which, at a minimum, shall include a written application and personal interview.

B. Pursuant to §9-173.8 §9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia, the director shall obtain, with the approval of the court, a copy of each applicant's criminal history record or certification that no conviction data is maintained on him, in accordance with §19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia, and a copy of information from the central registry, maintained pursuant to §63.1-248.8 §63.2-1515 of the Code of Virginia, on any investigation of child abuse or neglect undertaken on him or certification that no such record is maintained on him. If the volunteer applicant has lived in another state within the past three five years, the CASA volunteer program director shall also provide a copy obtain copies of his criminal history record and a copy of information from the central registry from that area. An applicant should shall be rejected if he refuses to sign a release of information for appropriate law-enforcement checks.

C. CASA volunteers shall provide three references who will speak to their character, judgment and suitability for the position of CASA volunteer.

D. Before the volunteer is sworn in, the director shall determine that the CASA volunteer is qualified under 6VAC20-160-90 and 6VAC20-160-120.

E. CASA volunteers shall successfully complete required training as set forth in 6VAC20-160-120.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §4.2, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.

6VAC20-160-120. Training.

A. To ensure that volunteers are fully prepared to perform their role as a CASA and to assume the accompanying responsibilities, each volunteer shall participate in a minimum of 30 hours of training prior to being accepted as a CASA volunteer and assigned cases. Credit may not be given towards this 30 hours of training for any previous training obtained by a volunteer prior to application to a local CASA program if that program uses the NCASAA Training Curriculum and documentation of completion of the training is provided.

B. The initial training curriculum for a CASA should, at a minimum, include instructions on:

1. The delineation of the roles and responsibilities of a CASA focusing on the rationale for family preservation/permanency planning, discussion of the basic principles of advocacy, distinction between the appropriate and inappropriate activities for a CASA, level of commitment required of a CASA involved in a case and the performance expectations, review of the case assignment process and procedures, differentiation between the role of the CASA and other system personnel, and a comprehensive list of resources available and when and how to utilize these resources;

2. The obligation of confidentiality in CASA-related matters, proper recordkeeping techniques, and the scope of state and federal statutes on the confidentiality of records;

3. The dynamics of cultural diversity and the development of cultural sensitivity by the CASA;

4. The nature of child abuse and neglect, the impact of drugs and alcohol on the incidence of abuse, identification of the family conditions and patterns which lead to and perpetuate abuse and neglect, and instruction on how local departments of social services respond to and assess reports of abuse and neglect;

5. The general principles and concepts of child and family development;

6. Concepts of separation and loss, the role of foster care and permanency planning in the context of state law with consideration of the state''s position on family preservation, family reunification and alternative permanent plans for a child who cannot be returned to the home;

7. Basic communication and interview skills, with guidelines for dealing with sensitive issues and the interaction between the CASA and parties to a case, and practice in conducting interviews and writing reports;

8. The juvenile court process which should include an outline of the various types of court proceedings, what transpires at each proceeding, the CASA''s role, who to contact when there is a question about the court process, a glossary of legal terminology, how to prepare for a hearing, and how to prepare a report for the court; and

9. The development of advocacy skills, such as negotiation and conflict management, and how they may be used by the CASA to improve the conditions for a child.

10. The development of a general understanding of the code of ethics of other professionals with whom the CASA volunteer will be working.

C. The initial training program shall provide an opportunity for the volunteer to observe actual court proceedings similar to those in which he would be involved as a CASA volunteer. This observation is above and beyond the hours included in the initial training.

D. CASA volunteers in training should shall be provided an opportunity to visit community agencies and institutions relevant to their work as a volunteer.

E. The CASA program should shall provide volunteers in training with the following written materials:

1. Copies of pertinent laws, regulations, and policies;

2. A statement of commitment form clearly stating the minimum expectations of the volunteer once trained; and

3. A training manual which is easy to update and revise.

F. Trainers and faculty for the initial training program and any ongoing training or continuing education should shall be persons with substantial knowledge, training and experience in the subject matter which they present and should also be competent in the provision of technical training to lay persons.

G. CASA program staff and others responsible for the initial training program should be attentive to the participation and progress of each trainee and be able to objectively evaluate his abilities according to criteria developed by the CASA program for that purpose. CASA directors should use the Comprehensive Training Curriculum for CASA from the National CASA Association NCASSA and training curricula developed within the state as a reference in designing and developing their training program.

H. The CASA program shall make available a minimum of 12 hours of in-service training annually for volunteers who are accepted into the program. These in-service programs should be designed and presented to maintain and improve the volunteer''s level of knowledge and skill. Special attention shall be given to informing volunteers of changes in the law, local court procedures, the practices of other agencies involved, CASA program policies and developments in the fields of child development, child abuse and child advocacy.

I. CASA volunteers shall participate in complete 12 hours of continuing education annually as approved by the director. This continuing education may be in-service programs provided directly by the CASA program, or in conjunction with another agency or agencies, or may be through an outside agency, through print or electronic media, or from other sources. All training not conducted or sponsored by the CASA program must have been reviewed and approved by the CASA director for its suitability for the continuing education of CASA volunteers, and the amount of continuing education credit that is appropriate.

Statutory Authority

§§9.1-151 and 9.1-153 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-04-3 §5.1, eff. July 1, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 5, eff. December 24, 1997.


CASA Quarterly Case Summary, Form A, rev. 8/1/97.

CASA Annual Case Summary, Form B, rev. 5/97.

CASA Annual Case Summary Narrative, Form C, rev. 5/97.

CASA Annual Financial Status, Form D, rev. 5/97.

CASA Annual Projected Program Budget, Form E, rev. 5/97.