About CASA

Each day in Washoe County, children are abused or neglected in tragic ways that are often not visible to the public. Sometimes abuse or neglect comes at the hands of parents or guardians, causing law enforcement or social services to remove these children from their home and place them into foster care, often with caregivers they have never met. Each year more than 600,000 children experience foster care in this country. These children are often removed from everything familiar and find themselves in a world filled with social workers, lawyers, and judges making life-altering decisions on their behalf.

Today there are 949 state and local CASA organizations that recruit, train, and support CASA volunteers to serve as a voice for abused and neglected children. CASAs—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care. Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes.


CASA in Washoe County is a partnership between our local CASA Program, supported by the Second Judicial District Court. The Washoe CASA Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, supports the program through fundraising and public outreach.

CASA is a powerful way to get involved in a grassroots organization that creates tangible, lifetime benefits for children.

There are currently more than 900 children in foster care in Washoe County. This statistic is worrisome. Foster children struggle against enormous odds to become healthy, successful adults. Although some resilient foster children succeed in the face of these hurdles, many do not. Foster children are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school. As many as 24% to 50% become homeless within the first 18 months of emancipation from foster care. CASA volunteers can change these odds.
The committed service of a trained CASA makes a real difference–to the judge, who can depend on CASA for well-researched recommendations based on the child’s needs and to the child who has a consistent adult to count on during a difficult time in their lives. Research by National CASA has found that a child with a CASA is…

• More likely to find a safe, permanent home
• More likely to be adopted
• Half as likely to re-enter foster care
• Less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
• More likely to have a permanency plan
• Likely to have more services ordered for them
• More likely to have a consistent, responsible adult presence
• Likely to spend less time in foster care
• Less likely to be bounced from home to home
• Likely to do better in school

“I think the best way to describe the impact that CASA had on my life is to compare my life and opportunities to my little brothers who grew up in the foster care system without a CASA. I was fortunate enough to have an advocate fight for my rights and care about my potential and future. My two little brothers grew up in the foster care system without ever having been adopted and without any stability. The only difference in our lives was my CASA, and their lack thereof. Without my CASA I’m confident I’d be living an impoverished life in a world of drugs and abuse. I wouldn’t have had my opportunity to attend college and graduate school. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve been given. And mostly I wouldn’t have been gifted the love and support from the people I now call my parents and family. My well being, my success, and my support system can all be attributed to a single woman who took the time to believe in a dirty, barely thriving, little redhead child.”
Ashley, Former CASA child
CASAs are ordinary people who care about children and their future. Adults 21 years and older of all backgrounds have joined our ranks. No legal experience is required. Please keep in mind the CASA’s mission is advocacy, not mentoring. Advocating involves learning about the child’s needs and wishes and serving as a voice for the child’s best interest within the child protection system.

What is needed is a commitment of your time, your energy, and your heart. As a CASA you will learn values important to CASA advocacy, including responsibility, self-awareness, respect for differences, critical thinking and collaboration.

CASAs spend the majority of their time gathering information from those involved in the case, including teachers, foster parents, attorneys, caseworkers, parents and family members to determine the facts and circumstances of the child’s situation. Of course, you will also spend time with the child getting to know them and appreciating their uniqueness.

“It has been and remains one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences in my life.”
Susan, CASA Volunteer since 1995
In Washoe County, we are always working to increase the number of volunteers. We believe all children in foster care will benefit from the help a CASA can provide. Prospective CASAs must undergo an application and screening process and successfully complete 40 hours of pre-service training to ensure the best possible advocacy for the children they will be assigned to. CASAs must also commit to two years of service. Here is additional information and specific requirements about becoming a volunteer.
Not everyone has the time necessary to become a CASA. However, there are many other ways to make a difference. Friends of CASA is a program in which members of the community form a partnership with the Washoe CASA Foundation to help provide resources and support. Friends of CASA have provided sponsorships for our past events such as our Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner, school supplies for the children we serve, and discounted activities throughout the community for our CASA volunteers and children to attend. Looking for an even more simple way to help, we also accept monetary donations of any amount.