Learning Center

Resources for CASA of Central Texas Volunteer Advocates



CASA volunteers are required to complete monthly timesheets. Click the Optima logo below to enter your data (instruction sheets and how-to video below).

Instructions for Optima

Optima Go Instructions

Training Handout – Volunteers (Need to Know)

Training Handout – Volunteers (Nice to Know)


Role play video by National CASA, what to expect when meeting with your CPS worker for the first time.


Helpful Handouts:

Talking to your Youth:

To help your youth feel like they are able to express their feelings, and to help you gain insight, try asking your youth to complete a youth court report.

Education Advocacy is important, especially for foster children who have switched schools. Talking to Foster Youth About School is an article that will give you ideas for prompting discussion at each age level.

Activities with your CASA child can help teach them and expose them to new things, and can also be a good chance to talk with them. Here are some ideas of Things You Can Do With Your CASA Child

Aging Out foster youth:

Older youth may feel better about their situation if they know what rights they have. You, as their CASA, should also know what to be advocating for. This article outlines those rights. Rights of Children and Youth in Foster Care

If a child ages out of care, they receive certain state-legislated benefits. Familiarize yourself with the Benefits for Current and Aged Out Foster Youth


Continuing Education

All CASA of Central Texas Volunteers are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education annually. CASA will hold trainings throughout the year and these trainings can be found on our calendar.

In addition to these trainings, volunteers may also attend outside workshops, participate in webinars, read articles and books, and view videos.

Texas CASA Learning Center offers webinars and other training in a variety of subjects. View their continuing education opportunities here. View National CASA’s CE opportunities here.

If you have other ideas and would like to know if they qualify, and to report completed activities, contact Layla Coleman at lcoleman@casacentex.org or 830-626-2272.

Suggested Reading

For Continuing Education and to enhance your advocacy, see our list of Suggested CASA Readings. More reading suggestions are available from National CASA here. CASA advocates may use books on the lists as continuing education – feel free to e-mail Layla at lcoleman@casacentex.org if you have more suggestions.
100 pages = 1 hour of CE Credit and advocates will be asked to write a short summary and submit it to Samantha for credit.


Volunteer Training Manual:

Chapter 1 Training: Introducing the CASA Volunteer Role (PDF)

·         Unit 1 Welcome
·         Unit 2 Understanding Child Abuse & Neglect
·         Unit 3 Principles & Concepts That Guide CASA/GAL Volunteer Work
·         Unit 4 Looking Ahead
Chapter 1 Resources
·         Child Neglect
·         Child Physical Abuse
·         Child Sexual Abuse
·         CASA Volunteer Responsibilities


Chapter 2 Training: Introducing the Law, the Child Protection System & the Courts (PDF)
·         Unit 1 The Development of Child Abuse & Neglect Laws
·         Unit 2 Introducing CPS & the Court Process
·         Unit 3 The Roles in a Juvenile Court Case
Chapter 2 Resources (PDF)

·         The Real Story of Mary Ellen Wilson
·         Federal Laws Governing Child Abuse & Neglect Cases
·         The Indian Child Welfare Act: The Need for a Separate Law
·         Tribal State Relations: Promising Practices in Child Welfare
·         A Child’s Journey Through the Child Welfare System


Chapter 3 Training: Developing Cultural Competence (PDF)
·         Unit 1 Diversity
·         Unit 2 Cultural Heritage
·         Unit 3 Personal Values
·         Unit 4 Culturally Competent Child Advocacy
·         Unit 5 Developing an Action Plan
Chapter 3 Resources (PDF)
·         Cultural Competence Continuum
·         Aspects of Cultural Competence
·         Understanding Asian Family Values & How to Incorporate Them into Culturally Competent Practice
·         Beyond Culture: Communicating with Asian American Children & Families
·        Examples of Folk Medicine in Southeast Asia
·        The Arab World & Arab Americans; Islam & Muslim Americans
·           Supporting African American Families: Dispelling Myths, Building on Strengths
·           Programs with a Cultural Fit: Working with Latino Families
·         Understanding the Relational Worldview in Indian Families
·         Split Feathers: Adult American Indians Who Were Placed in Non-Indian Families as Children
·         Tips for Non-Natives Working with or in Native Communities
·         Advocating for the Best Interest of Native Children
·         White Privilege – Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
·         Heterosexual Privilege
·         The Relationship of Sexism to Other Forms of Oppression
·         Sexual Orientation Development
·         GLBTQ Youth
·         LGBTQ Youth in the Foster Care System

·         Gender Variance: A Primer
·         Tips for Working with Transgendered People
·         Books for Increasing Cultural Competence

Chapter 4 Training: Understanding
Families – Part 1 (PDF)

·         Unit 1 Family Strengths
·         Unit 2 Understanding Families Through Culture
·         Unit 3 Stress in Families
·         Unit 4 Risk Factors for Child Abuse & Neglect
·         Unit 5 The Impact of Mental Illness on Children & Families
·         Unit 6 The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children & Families
Chapter 4 Resources (PDF)
·         Culture Clash
·         Ethnopediatrics: Emerging Field Takes Comparative Look at Parenting Practices Around the World
·         A Knock on the Door
·         Domestic Violence: Safety Tips for You & Your Family
·         How the Dynamics Between Animal Abuse & Child Abuse Affect the Forensic Interview Process

Chapter 5 Training: Understanding Families – Part 2 (PDF)

·         Unit 1 The Impact of Substance Abuse/Addiction on Children & Families
·         Unit 2 Poverty – The Facts for Children
·         Unit 3 The Importance of Family to a Child
Chapter 5 Resources (PDF)
·         Methamphetamine: What Child Welfare Workers Should Know
·         The Treatment Perspective in Permanency Decisions for Substance Abusing Parents

Chapter 6 Training: Understanding Children (PDF)

·         Unit 1 The Needs of Children
·         Unit 2 How Children Grow & Develop
·         Unit 3 Attachment & Resilience
·         Unit 4 Separation
·         Unit 5 Permanence for Children
·         Unit 6 Psychological & Educational Issues for Children
Chapter 6 Resources (PDF)
·         Child Development Chart
·         The Implications of Culture on Developmental Delay
·         A Call to Action: An Integrated Approach to Youth Permanency & Preparation for Adulthood
·         Siblings in Out-of Home Care Fact Sheet
·         Children’s Educational & Psychological Issues – Learning Disabilities, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Childhood Depression, Conduct Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
·          Special Education Services
·          Mental Health Assessments for Infants & Toddlers
·          Professional Assessment of Children
·        Resiliency: The 40 Developmental Assets

Chapter 7 Training: Communicating as a CASA Volunteer (PDF)

·         Unit 1 Developing Communication Skills
·         Unit 2 Communicating with Children
·         Unit 3 Dealing with Conflict
·         Unit 4 Understanding Confidentiality
Chapter 7 Resources (PDF)
·         Reflection/Clarification Phrases
·         Practical Pitfalls of Collaboration – & How to Turn Them into Advantages
·         Keys to Effective Communication
·         Principled Negotiation

Chapter 8 Training: Practicing the CASA Volunteer Role – Gathering Information (PDF)

·         Unit 1 How a CASA/GAL Volunteer Is Appointed to a Case
·         Unit 2 Planning the Investigation & Gathering Information
·         Unit 3 A Successful CASA/GAL Volunteer Interview
·         Unit 4 Investigating a Case
Chapter 8 Resources (PDF)
·         Resource Guidelines – Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse & Neglect Cases
·         Master Checklists: Preliminary Protective Hearing Checklist, Adjudication Hearing Checklist, Review Hearing Checklist, Permanency Planning Hearing Checklist, Termination of Parental Rights Hearing Checklist, Adoption Hearing Checklist
·         Investigation & Interview Forms: Intitial Investigation Plan, CASA Volunteer Interview with Child, CASA Volunteer Interview with Parent(s), CASA Volunteer General Interview Form
·         Culturally Sensitive Interviewing with Native Children
·         Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Chapter 9: Training Practicing the CASA Volunteer Role – Reporting & Monitoring (PDF)

·         Unit 1 Community Resources
·         Unit 2 Writing Court Reports & Making Effective Recommendations
·         Unit 3 Appearing in Court
·         Unit 4 Monitoring a Case
Chapter 9 Resources (PDF)
·         Appearing in Court 

Chapter 10 Training: Pulling It All Together (PDF)

·         Unit 1 Self-Care for Volunteers
·         Unit 2 Support from CASA/GAL Program Staff
·         Unit 3 Focusing on the Needs of the Child
·         Unit 4 Training Wrap Up

Websites appropriate to each training chapter (PDF)

Manual Glossary (PDF)