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Thank you to all the advocates who participated in the volunteer meetings in Santa Maria and Lompoc.  Below are all the tips you shared for writing court reports:

General tips

  • Remember- it has to be accurate, in your words and on time…. Not perfect
  • Your advocate supervisor is there to help you write the best report you can… Not grade you
  • Start early and turn the draft in on time 4 weeks before the hearing

Note Taking/ information gathering tips-

Tools and tips that help you to make sure that you have all of the information you need before you start your court report.

Things that work:

  • A CASA Journal
  • A CASA Planner- write notes down on the days
  • Email Advocate Supervisor after every contact- Saves the time and date
  • Take notes right away
  • Write down exact quotes
  • Write notes directly on the temple (electronic or paper)
  • Use Zillow to get info on the placement home (size, rooms, neighborhood/ school)
  • Use voice memo on phone before leaving the visit
  • be familiar with the template and know what they need to be focused on before the template it sent out to them.
  • Do their initial meeting with services providers (teachers, therapist, doctors, etc.) and do regular follow ups. Asking for report cards, progress report, attendance and or evaluations.
  • Have regular contact (build rapport) with the care providers/parents to get the information you need.
  • Check in with other CASAs on the same case to get different perspective or capture more information about your child(sometimes).
  • Inviting self to appointment/meetings..ie with SW, doctors, therapist. Be involved.
  • Using computer to keep track of visits (google calendar – provide reminders and log time). Keep notes electronically.
  • Journaling.  Organizing notes visits with kids, parents and service providers by dates.

Things that don’t work

  • Relying on memory
  • Not keeping regular contact with AS
  • Waiting to contact professionals

 

Getting your court report draft in on time

Tools and tips for getting your court report draft in on time

Things that work:

  • Starting the template with at least three things when you get it from your Advocate Supervisor
  • Having your notes organized so it’s easier to pull what you need for the report
  • keeping things in chronological order
  • being clear and concise
  • working with your advocate supervisor
  • keeping your notes in the court report template so everything is in one place
  • Write and revise your court report as you go
  • Start with recommendations section or CASA Comments, concerns and Questions…. Then work backward
  • Remember it is a draft and it doesn’t have to be perfect

Things that don’t work:

  • not keeping notes
  • waiting until the last minute to get started
  • waiting till it is perfect to submit a draft

Getting additional information

Tools and tips for getting extra information when you are in the draft phase

Things that work:

  • Building relationships with all of your contacts.
  • Letting them know when you will be writing the court report and setting up a time to call during the draft phase
  • Be specific- have questions written down/ email in advance
  • Ask your Advocate Supervisor for help- especially with Social Workers
  • Prioritizing your questions- get most important information first

Things that don’t work:

  • Making first time calls while you are in the draft phase

 

Last minute information

Tools and tips for getting last minute information into your reports

Things that work:

  • Making a last round of calls the week before the hearing.  A final check up
  • Taking your child to court… use that to ask what they want the judge to know
  • Filing an addendum
  • Attending court
  • Emailing a statement to be read in court to your Advocate Supervisor

Things that don’t work:

  • Turning in a late Court Report