When a child enters the child welfare system due to allegations of abuse or neglect, CASA is appointed by a judge to advocate for the child. A CASA volunteer is matched to each case, which can include one or more children, and routinely visits the children in their placement getting to know the children. After reviewing the case information, the volunteer consults with the program staff to develop a case plan. The CASA volunteer works to ensure appropriate physical and mental health assessments are completed and that the child’s needs are understood by the family and everyone involved in the case. Prior to each court hearing, the CASA volunteer prepares a court report which includes evaluations and recommendations for the child. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interest of a child and make informed recommendations for the child’s physical and emotional well-being to the judge. The judge reads and considers the CASA report in addition to reports from the rest of the team prior to making a decision.
CASA volunteers stay by a child’s side throughout the case, advocating first for reunification when safe and possible. If reunifications is not safe or possible, CASA volunteers will advocate for the child to be adopted by, or live with, other relatives or family friends. If that is also not possible, CASA volunteers will work towards adoption by a non-relative. No matter what, CASA volunteers will keep in contact with the support network until the case closes so that everyone continues to put the child’s best interests first.
CASA volunteers are community members working collaboratively to support children and families involved in the foster care system. CASA volunteers come from different backgrounds, neighborhoods and communities just like the kids they help. CASA volunteers go through training to learn how to advocate for the best interest of children and their families before being assigned to a case by a judge.
In addition to our services to abused and neglected children, the CASA program works to provide the community education concerning the issue of child abuse, neglect, and child welfare policy. We are also committed to working toward public policies that promote child abuse prevention and to address reforms in the Child Welfare/Foster Care Systems.