TexasBarBooks Publications Attorney Talks About His Experience as a CASA Volunteer

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David Ashmore has worked as a publications attorney for TexasBarBooks for almost 11 years. He’s contributed to a number of publications over the years, the most recent being Bankruptcy Road Map: Navigating the Landscape, Avoiding the Pitfalls and Arbitration Road Map: A Guide to Clauses, Procedures, and Hearings.

You volunteer for CASA of Travis County. What does a CASA do?

CASA volunteers act as the eyes and ears of the court in making a determination of what is in a child’s best interest. It generally works like this: when a situation arises wherein local child protective services decide to remove a child from the home, the legal system will be involved. Early on in the process, the court will appoint CASA to advocate for the child throughout the duration of the case, which usually will last for one year. As a CASA volunteer, my duties include not only getting to know the child, but also principal people in the child’s life, such as the child’s parents, teachers, and medical providers. I also prepare status reports for the court on the progress of child.

How long have you been a CASA? How has your role changed since you first started out?

I’ve been a CASA volunteer since July 2009. Before my appointment, I was required to complete 30 hours of instruction, plus 5 hours of court observation. My training was geared toward the typical situation where a child is removed from the home and is temporarily placed with relatives or in foster care so that parents can do what is necessary over time to be reunited with the child. However, I was assigned to a case involving an older teen who was not going to be reunited with his family. Accordingly, my role has been to mentor and help prepare this young man for adult living when he turns 18. He’s really a bright kid and is on track to graduate from high school this spring. He plans to attend college in the fall, so I’m helping him to stay on track and realize his goals.


What do you find most rewarding or interesting about volunteering your time to this organization?

One of the more interesting aspects is being able to work with a great group of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children who’ve been dealt a pretty bad hand. I see some of these kids and their circumstances and it makes me realize just how minor my problems are in comparison. There is that saying, “Think globally, act locally.” I may not be able to change the world, but I might be able to help make a difference in one kid’s life. That is my reward.

What advice do you have for people interested in volunteering to be a CASA?

The advice I would give is that you have to keep a very open mind and reserve judgment about a particular issue until all the facts are in. It is very easy to come to a snap decision when you see or read something about a family situation, but until you know all the factors involved, you run the risk of making an ill-informed recommendation to the court.

What are you reading now?

I’m finishing up on The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck, in preparation for my vacation overseas. I’m also looking for some good detective novels to read while flying. Got any suggestions?

For more information, visit CASA of Travis County.

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