legislation mandated that every abused and/or neglected child brought into the Juvenile Court system be represented by a CASA volunteer. This mandate is a clear recognition of the value that the state government places in our organization. However, with our current volunteer manpower, we can only serve about 1/3 of the children who need an advocate.
The child’s advocate works to ensure progress toward a permanent, secure living environment for the child in the shortest amount of time possible. Too many times, the child lingers in the overcrowded foster/institutional care system. The “system” is not equipped to parent children. The average family case manager has a caseload of 20-25 children many of whom are “special needs.”
Department of Child Services, by law, must offer services to the family in effort to reunite them. In some cases, that is in the best interest of the child; however, it is not always so. This reunification becomes the focus of the child protection’s involvement. The CASA advocate concentrates on keeping the best interest of the child before the court.
Review hearings are held at least every 6 months, with the Department of Child Services attorney present. Parents often have an attorney privately or through legal service groups. The Judge may appoint an attorney for parents in some circumstances. Because the child is often not present, the court relies on the CASA volunteer to advocate exclusively for the child’s best interest. Volunteers also speak for the child in other settings such as medical, therapeutic, and foster/institutional care. The CASA volunteer becomes the voice of the child.
The most important qualification for a prospective volunteer is the desire to help children. As a volunteer you will be the voice of an abused or neglected child who needs to be heard throughout the legal process. In order to be eligible, a potential volunteer must:
If you are willing and able to meet all these requirements, please send an email to Vand.CASA@insightbb.com with a subject line of “Volunteer Information” for more information.