About Us

What is a CASA volunteer?

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. In the 5th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri (Buchanan and Andrew counties) these children are victims of abuse and/or neglect.


What is the role of a CASA volunteer?

A CASA volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched background details about the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child's future. Each home placement case is as unique as the child involved. The CASA volunteer must determine if the best interest of the child is staying with their parents or guardians, being placed in foster care, or being freed for permanent adoption. The CASA volunteer makes a recommendation on placement to the judge and follows through on the case until permanency for the child is achieved.  The average length of a case is 16 months. 


Is there a "typical" CASA volunteer?

CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and possess a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. There are more than 97,000 CASA volunteers nationally. Locally, we currently have 27 volunteers who serve children in both Andrew and Buchanan counties. 


How do CASA volunteers investigate a case?

To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers, and others who are knowledgeable about the child's history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child-school, medical, case worker reports, and other documents.


How much time is required to volunteer?

Each case is different. A CASA volunteer can spead several hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work on average 4 hours per month on a case depending on the complicity.


How long does a CASA volunteer remain involved?

The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child.




The CASA Movement

In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children without enough information. He conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these children in court. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA movement. Since the conception of the CASA program in 1977, CASA has grown to include nearly 950-member programs in 49 states nationwide. CASA programs across the country are known by several different names, including Guardian ad Litem, Child Advocates and Voices for Children. Since the inception of CASA advocacy, volunteers have helped well over 1,000,000 children find safe, permanent homes

in which they can thrive.


Local History

The CASA program in the Buchanan county started as a pilot project in 1987.  Under the supervision and support of Judge Patrick Robb the program was made an established part of the juvenile court process and also began serving children in Andrew county as well. The 5th Judicial Circuit CASA Office currently has 27 volunteers who serve children in both counties.


Become a Member



CASA Staff

CASA Director

Melisa Talbott

E-mail: melisa.talbott@courts.mo.gov

Phone: 816-901-1708

CASA Program Assistant

Donna Huffman

Email: donna.huffman@courts.mo.gov

Phone: 816-901-1703

Want to Become a Volunteer?

Please call us at: (816) 901-1708 or fill out our contact form.


5th Circuit CASA of Missouri

411 Jules, B-3

Saint Joseph, MO 64501



Perspective CASA Volunteer Information.p[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [163.3 KB]
New Volunteer Application.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [72.1 KB]
New Volunteer Background Check Form - CA[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [37.6 KB]

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