Mastering the Art of CASA Child Interviews: A Comprehensive Guide

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, one of your most crucial responsibilities is conducting interviews with the child or children you are appointed to advocate for. These interviews play a vital role in gathering valuable information, establishing trust, and ensuring that the child’s best interests are represented throughout the legal process. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the art of CASA child interviews with confidence and sensitivity.

Understanding the Importance of CASA Child Interviews

CASA volunteers serve as a voice for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or other adverse circumstances. Through interviews, you gain insights into the child’s experiences, concerns, and desires, which inform your recommendations to the court regarding their placement, services, and overall well-being.

Effective child interviews not only gather crucial information but also help build rapport and trust with the child, creating a safe and supportive environment for them to express themselves freely. By actively listening and showing genuine concern, you can help mitigate the trauma and uncertainty these children often face.

Preparing for the CASA Child Interview

Before conducting an interview, it’s essential to lay the groundwork for a successful and productive conversation. Here are some key steps to take:

  1. Review the Case File: Familiarize yourself with the child’s background, current situation, and any relevant details that may inform your line of questioning or provide context for their responses.

  2. Choose a Comfortable Setting: Select a location where the child feels safe and at ease, such as their current placement, a park, or a quiet room at their school. Avoid settings that may trigger anxiety or discomfort.

  3. Establish Rapport: Begin the conversation by introducing yourself and explaining your role as a CASA volunteer. Use age-appropriate language and a friendly, non-threatening demeanor to help the child feel comfortable and trust you.

  4. Set Expectations: Clearly outline the purpose of the interview and let the child know that you are there to listen and understand their perspective. Reassure them that their responses will be kept confidential, unless there are concerns about their safety.

Common CASA Child Interview Questions

While each child’s situation is unique, here are some common questions that CASA volunteers may ask during an interview:

General Questions

  • What are your interests or hobbies?
  • How do you feel about school? What do you like or dislike about it?
  • Have you been able to visit or speak with your relatives? How often, and how did those interactions go?
  • Do you like your current living situation (foster home, group home, etc.)? What do you like or dislike about it?
  • If you’ve had any problems or concerns, who did you tell, and what was the outcome?
  • Where would you like to live ideally, and what do you envision for your future?

Family-Related Questions

  • Tell me about your relationship with your family members (parents, siblings, etc.).
  • What activities did you enjoy doing with your family?
  • How often do you speak to or visit your family members?
  • What is your goal or plan regarding living with your family again (if applicable)? Do you desire reunification?
  • If reunification is the goal, what help or support do you think you and your family need to achieve that?
  • Are there any other family members or support resources you would like to be involved in your life?

Placement-Related Questions

  • How are things going in your current placement (foster home, group home, etc.)?
  • Do you get along with the other people living there (foster family, staff, other residents)?
  • What is your daily routine or schedule like?
  • Are you involved in any activities or events at your placement?
  • Do you feel safe and comfortable in your current living situation?
  • Are there any concerns or incidents you would like to share about your placement?

Education-Related Questions

  • How are you doing in school academically?
  • Are you receiving any special education services or accommodations (e.g., Individualized Education Program, tutoring)?
  • Do you have any concerns or struggles related to school?
  • Are you involved in any extracurricular activities or clubs at school?
  • How are your relationships with teachers and other students?

Health and Well-Being Questions

  • Are you currently receiving any therapy or counseling services?
  • If so, how often do you attend sessions, and do you find them helpful?
  • Are you taking any medications? If so, do you understand why you are taking them and any potential side effects?
  • Do you have any upcoming medical, dental, or vision appointments?
  • How would you describe your overall physical and emotional well-being?

Remember, these questions are meant to serve as a guide, and you may need to adapt or expand upon them based on the child’s age, developmental level, and specific circumstances. Throughout the interview, actively listen, ask follow-up questions, and allow the child to share their thoughts and feelings freely.

Tips for Effective CASA Child Interviews

  1. Build Trust and Rapport: Approach the interview with empathy, patience, and a non-judgmental attitude. Establish a safe and supportive environment where the child feels comfortable opening up.

  2. Use Age-Appropriate Language: Tailor your language and communication style to the child’s age and developmental level. Avoid jargon or complex terminology that may confuse or intimidate them.

  3. Be an Active Listener: Maintain eye contact, nod, and provide verbal affirmations to show that you are actively listening and engaged. Avoid interrupting or rushing the child’s responses.

  4. Observe Non-Verbal Cues: Pay attention to the child’s body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions, as these can provide valuable insights into their emotional state and level of comfort.

  5. Validate Feelings: Acknowledge and validate the child’s emotions, whether they express joy, sadness, anger, or frustration. Let them know that their feelings are valid and important.

  6. Maintain Objectivity: While building a rapport is crucial, it’s essential to maintain professional boundaries and objectivity. Avoid making promises or offering advice beyond your role as a CASA volunteer.

  7. Document Thoroughly: After the interview, document your observations, the child’s responses, and any concerns or recommendations you may have. Accurate documentation is crucial for informing your advocacy efforts and court reports.

Conducting effective CASA child interviews requires a delicate balance of empathy, professionalism, and skilled communication. By following these guidelines and continuously honing your interviewing skills, you can ensure that the child’s voice is heard, their well-being is prioritized, and their best interests are represented throughout the legal process.

CASA training Interview with child Part 1


What questions are asked in a child safety interview?

Please give three examples of how you have worked or interacted safely with children in the past. What boundaries have you put in place when working with children and young people? How would you describe appropriate professional boundaries in the context of this role? What is your understanding of child protection?

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