CASA staff members train volunteer advocates to work on behalf of vulnerable children in the court system. Advocates are then appointed by judges to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates. These advocates speak out for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes.
CASAs interview parents, teachers, foster families, counselors, and the child.With this information, they submit reports to the court. Judges are then able to make more informed decisions about what is in the best interests of the child.
A CASA's goals are to ensure each child has a safe and permanent home, give them a voice, and advocate for their safety and needs.
Children with CASA advocates are likely to spend less time in foster care, are less likely to be bounced from home to home, and do better in school. They are half as likely to re-enter foster care.
The stats are harrowing. In 2017, nine out of every 1,000 U.S. children were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect. That’s why the need for CASA volunteers is so great. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children who are involved in the court system as a result of abuse or neglect.
For many of these children, their CASA advocate will be the one constant in an otherwise chaotic life.
The children we serve have experienced significant trauma.
The vast majority of children who are victims of maltreatment have suffered from neglect. Physical abuse accounted for 18 percent of child maltreatment victims in 2017. Some children are subjected to both physical abuse and neglect.
Physical abuse and neglect are two of a number of highly stressful, potentially traumatic experiences known as “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs. Among other ACEs children who have experienced abuse or neglect may have been subjected to are:
One in ten children in the U.S. has experienced three or more ACEs.
For children who are removed from their families, that removal and life in foster care can add to the trauma.
The impacts of this trauma can last a lifetime.
Experiencing abuse, neglect and other ACEs can cause feelings of helplessness and intense fear in children.
Trauma can mark children’s health and ability to thrive immediately, and as they age, including negatively impacting:
But there is hope. Some children are more resilient to the impacts of trauma. For others, it’s a relationship with a supportive adult—like a CASA volunteer—that makes the difference.
CASA volunteers help children—and families—access services that promote healing.
CASA volunteers are trained to understand the impact of trauma on children.
They spend time with children and the people in their lives. They talk to service providers, teachers and social workers to gather information that will help them make informed recommendations to the court.
Based on what they learn, our volunteers advocate for services that help children develop resilience without causing additional trauma. They also encourage services that strengthen parents’ relationships with their children.