Before the Hearing
One of your primary roles as a CASA is to prepare a report for and attend your youth’s bi-yearly court hearing. Your statement will provide the judge with important insight into the youth's life. A thoughtful and well-prepared statement can go a long way towards ensuring that the best decisions are made on a youth's behalf. Your case supervisor and other SFCASA staff will help you create and edit this report, but you will prepare the content. Here are some steps that can guide you in your preparation of a court report.
Check in with key contacts (6-8 weeks in advance)
About two months before the hearing, start to check in with some of the important people in your youth’s life. This gives them enough time to collect important documents and give you enough time to sort through the information. For many, these people will include:
- Other school staff ( who will provide report cards, transcripts, attendance records, and most recent IEP if student is eligible for special education)
- Social worker
- Other team members, as relevant to the case (e.g. therapists, coaches, family members, case managers)
Check in with your youth (6-8 weeks in advance)
Talk to your youth about what's going on in their life to get the most updated information. Ask about their school experience, how they like their extracurricular activities, and post-secondary education plans, etc. Think about how their thoughts and experiences have changed with time, particularly since the last hearing.
Let your youth know about the hearing.
If they’re over 10 years old, invite and encourage them to come! They have the right to be present and attending their hearing can be a great way to develop an understanding of their experience and develop their own self-advocacy skills.
Writing the Court Report (4-5 weeks in advance)
Look over the court report template before you begin to write. Remember that specific examples are more credible than simple statements of opinion. For example,
“Alyssa is disrespectful in class.”
is less reliable than
“Alyssa’s teacher still reports that Alyssa struggles to focus on material, particularly in the afternoon. She sometimes interrupts the teacher and other students, leaves her chair to walk around, or draws on handouts.”
Reports tend to be 3-6 pages long. Prioritize relevant information and be thorough, yet concise.
Note: If you hold educational rights, you will also need to fill out the JV-537. Little to no new information should be required to complete this form.
Submit report to SF CASA (3 weeks in advance)
Once you submit your report, your case supervisor will review it and send it back for edits. If you are new to writing these reports, expect it to go back and forth several times before it is finalized and filed with the Court.
SF CASA files report (2 weeks in advance)
Once approved, SF CASA will submit the report to the court on your behalf. The judge and other parties will then receive and be able to review the report in advance of the hearing.