What do we do?
Court Appointed Special Advocates are community volunteers appointed by a judge to advocate for abused and neglected children that have ended up in state care. A CASA is often the one constant person in a child’s life, staying on a case until it is closed. CASAs are specially trained to understand the juvenile court system and the policies and procedures of the Department of Human Services. They are taught how to investigate cases of abused and neglected children who are wards of the court, while being the voice of the child in court proceedings, and keeping the Judge informed of the child’s health and welfare by offering carefully researched, objective and unbiased information about the child.
Why do we need CASAs?
At any given time there are (on average) 500 kids in foster care in Marion County. At present, the people that serve these families (Department of Human Services workers, attorneys, doctors, dentists, therapists,teachers, etc.) are overtaxed due to the sheer volume of cases. Although each family is assigned a DHS caseworker, and each person (parent and child) has an attorney, tracking what's actually happening with all of these players is a daunting task. Added to the burden is a high 'burn-out' factor, and much 'system process' evolution, both of which can interfere with the smooth running of any single case, and complicates the management of many cases.
CASAs on the other hand generally serve only 1-4 children at a time so they can visit the children and all the other people involved regularly; stay on the case for its duration; provide written and oral reports and recommendations to the judge; and advocate for the child's best interests. Very often, the CASA is the ONE person on the case who carries all the information about all aspects of the case forward to the judge.
National studies have shown that having a CASA assigned to a juvenile case results in:
Most significantly, for those children with closed cases (children who have found a 'home'), kids served by a CASA are less likely to re-enter foster care as those kids who didn't have a CASA.
CASA of Marion County