State & Local Programs

CASA: A Guide to Program Development

Section 1 - Planning a Quality Program (Chapters 1- 9)
Section II - Volunteers (Chapters 10- 12)
Section III - Managing the Program (Chapters - 13-15)

Manual HomeIntro Chapters1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Section I - Planning a Quality Program
Section I - Chapter 2: Overview of CASA

The Mission
Establish a Plan

The Mission

Effective planning begins with the mission of the organization. Though this may seem like an unnecessary step, it is important to have the group discuss and come to consensus about what the mission is. Because the mission statement serves to inspire people to become involved with the organization and to stay committed to it, it is crucial that every member of the planning committee feel a sense of ownership for the mission and be able to connect his work on the committee to its achievement.

A mission statement should be short (no more than two or three sentences) and should state clearly the ultimate purpose of the organization. When this goal is attained, the CASA program would no longer need to exist. This is in contrast to the statements of many organizations which describe what the organization does, rather than what it intends to achieve. Key elements in a mission statement for CASA would include court-based volunteer advocacy, abused and neglected children, best interests, and permanency. Consider the mission statements of two CASA programs:

  • "CASA advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system. Based on the belief that every child is entitled to a safe and permanent home, CASA works in the court system through trained volunteers in collaboration with key agencies, legal counsel and community resources to serve as the child?s advocate and represent the child in juvenile court."
  • "CASA advocates for the best interests of children who are under the protection of the juvenile court, seeking to assure safe, permanent families for them as quickly as possible."

The process of developing the program?s mission statement can be an enjoyable, team building activity for the steering committee and should therefore be done early in the planning process. As the program develops, it should be reviewed on a regular basis and used as the guiding star for all planning steps. The mission will be useful to share with the individuals and groups whose support you will be seeking and with potential staff and volunteers (see additional examples of mission statements in the Tools Section).


Establish a Plan

Once the mission is established, the committee?s next task should be to develop a plan which details all the tasks required to achieve the goal of implementing a program. This is a very focused and time-limited plan. It is not a strategic plan that lays out the long-term goals for the program?s growth. That kind of plan is also important and should be developed early in the organization?s operation, but it should be developed by those who will guide the program after it is operating. The initial plan is the blueprint for the organization?s design and construction phases that should include:

  • Activities: Identify the specific decisions that must be made and the tasks that must be completed.
  • Timelines: Include dates when each task should be completed.
  • Responsible party: Identify the individual(s) who will be held responsible for accomplishing the task.
  • Resource requirements: Identify all resources required to accomplish each task, including funding for supplies, postage, telephone, travel, etc.

Manual HomeIntro Chapters1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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