State & Local Programs

Recruiting CASA Volunteers from Juries

Sheila Parks Las Vegas CASA program director
"Not only are we reaching a lot of people, we are reaching a very diverse group of people, with a minimum investment of time and money."

Shelia Parks, 8th Judicial District Court CASA, Las Vegas

Is there a way for your program to reach more than 1,000 community members each month with an investment of less than eight hours of time and virtually no money? Shelia Parks, director of the 8th Judicial District Court CASA program says there is: recruiting from jury pools.

Shelia shares the secrets of success that she has learned since instituting the program one year ago.

Why did the court agree to CASA presentations?

There were two keys to making this arrangement possible: First, having the strong support of the dependency court judge who brought this to our attention. Second, our ability to assure the jury commissioners that allowing CASA staff or volunteers to do the presentations would not cause them any additional burden or increase their workloads in any way. The jury staff is very busy orienting and processing jurors. They did not want questions or distractions. We were able to guarantee that allowing our presentation would not require any work on their part.

How much staff time does it take?

Recruiting from jury pools requires a minimum investment of time and money. We make an average of five presentations each month, with each presentation lasting approximately 20 minutes. It takes longer to drive to the courthouse and back than it does to give the presentation. We ask our CASA volunteers to do the presentations when their schedule permits.  

What is the format of the presentation?

We provide an overview of CASA, show the Making a Lifelong Difference video, distribute brochures and intake forms (to interested parties only), and answer questions. Presentations are made immediately following the jury orientation, before jurors are taken to the various courtrooms for screenings. 

What materials are required?

The only materials required are a video, script, brochures and intake forms. We have a second, modified script that can be used in conjunction with a jury presentation video that we produced. We had hoped to use the video in place of having staff do the actual presentation, whenever possible. That did not work out because the jury staff was concerned that individuals would approach them with questions that they could not answer, and it would cause them distractions. Because the video is so well done, we are still able to use it. It makes it easy for anyone to make an effective presentation that delivers a clear, consistent message.

How many people do you reach?

On average, we are reaching more than 1,000 people each month through five presentations. Approximately 20 percent of the people we present to end up taking brochures. Over 5 percent complete intake forms, which allow us to follow up with them later by email with an invitation to attend a monthly orientation. 

Not only are we reaching a lot of people, we are reaching a very diverse group of people, a true cross section of the population—individuals from all walks of life. And they are responding! In a recent volunteer training, 5 of the 25 people in attendance said that they learned about the CASA program through jury recruitment.

What are the biggest challenges to recruiting from juries?

The need to have staff or volunteers available to attend the presentations on such short notice has been the biggest obstacle. In our county, jury scheduling is often done a day or two in advance. With a small number of program staff and limited number of volunteers available on stand-by notice, we have had to be extremely flexible.

We have tried to develop a speakers’ bureau of volunteers who can commit to being available on a given day. I think people respond better when the recruitment call is coming from a volunteer because that is who we are trying to recruit—volunteers.  

 

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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