more articles like this
updated: Apr 16, 2011, 8:15 AM
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County is a local
nonprofit that serves local children-specifically, children who have been
abused, neglected, or abandoned.
When children are abused in some way and taken from their homes, they enter a
world of court proceedings and confusing, competing interests-they have a
lawyer, of course, but that lawyer may have hundreds of other cases to deal
with. The child's social worker, likewise, has a full case load and may only see
the child once a month. The judge gets to know the case, but only sees the child
infrequently, and in a courtroom setting.
That's where CASA volunteers come in.
A CASA volunteer gets to know the child and the child's situation. The volunteer
sees the child every week, and regularly talks to the child's teachers, parents,
other family members, social workers, lawyer, and often therapists, in order to
get a clear picture of what is going on-and then the volunteer, known as a CASA,
advocates for that child's best interests.
So, what does that mean, "a child's best interests?"
It means that a CASA is only responsible to their assigned child. CASA
volunteers are objective outsiders, and they make sure children have what they
Sometimes that's something simple, like clothes that fit or shoes without holes
in the soles. Sometimes it's something less simple, like reporting further abuse
and making sure a child is safe right now, today.
Every six months, each CASA writes a report-with the support of an on-staff case
supervisor-for the judge in their child's case. In the report, the CASA
recommends what's best for the child: should the child stay in foster care, or
be returned to parents who have perhaps made real efforts to learn better
parenting skills, for example? What does the child want? Does the CASA believe
that is what's best? Judges take CASA court reports very seriously, and
carefully consider CASAs' recommendations when making their decisions.
CASA volunteers undergo a rigorous training course and are then sworn in as
advocates by a judge. Each volunteer is assigned to a case supervisor who stays
in regular contact and makes sure that volunteer has the support he or she
needs. Case supervisors also accompany volunteers to court hearings, and oversee
each case to make sure everything goes according to plan. Because of this
extensive training and continuous support, as well as the individual strengths
they bring to their role, CASA volunteers can make a real and lasting difference
in the lives of the most vulnerable children in our community. As a group,
children with CASAs have access to more services, and they are more likely to
In 2010, CASA of Santa Barbara County served 250 children, and we expect to
serve more than that by the end of 2011. Still, as of this writing there were
115 children in our county waiting for a CASA.
CASA's mission is to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused
and/or neglected child by providing a highly trained advocate for them in the
For more information, please contact Summers Case, CASA's Development
Coordinator, at email@example.com or (805) 456-5984.
3 comments on this article. Read/Add
# # # #