CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) believes every child who’s been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community. To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child’s needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what’s best for the child.
For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible. Children with CASA volunteers are more likely to end up with their family, and according to National CASA, more likely to receive therapy, health care and education and do better in school, and less likely to be bounced from one place to another or get stuck in long-term foster care. CASA’s vision is to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in need in our community. Last year, 90 children still needed a volunteer to speak up for them.
For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place. CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn, and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. Volunteers complete an interview, background checks and 35 hours of intensive training. After being sworn-in by a judge, volunteers are appointed to a child or family of children and spend an average of 15 hours a month advocating for these children for at least a year or until the case closes. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, care-givers and anyone else involved in the child’s life. Judges highly value CASA’s recommendations which help them make informed decisions in the child’s best interest.