What Is CASA?
You may have heard of the term CASA used before when dealing with the foster system. What is CASA? CASA is short for Court Appointed Special Advocate. It’s a national association that in the U.S. that supports and promotes court appointed advocates for abused or neglected children to provide children with a safe environment in a permanent home. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and be an advocate in court for children of child abuse and neglect. This is so the child just doesn’t get stuck in the legal and/or foster care system or be place in a foster home that doesn’t allow them to live safe healthy and healthy. The CASA member is an advocate for the child until the child’s case is closed and placed in permanent home that is free from abuse and neglect. They get to know the children and everyone in the child’s life. Bio parents, foster parents, teachers, social workers and others are met with. They gather and use this information to report back to the judge what they think is the best direction for the youth.
As a foster kid experience abuse and/or neglect you learn that it’s hard to trust people. If your parents, the ones who are supposed to love you the most, can victimize you then what’s to make you think that other people are going to look at for you. As a 15 year old in foster care I realized that the people involved in my case and in the foster care system all had a job. They get paid to do that job therefore it’s hard to think that they don’t have an agenda. Are they recommending these things for me because it’s their job or do they really care about me and my future? With this being said it’s nice to have someone like a CASA advocate in your corner because they are a volunteer, don’t get paid, and since that is the case I feel more like my best interest IS their agenda.
There is proof that these advocates make a difference. According to the CASA website, last year, more than 77,000 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers helped 234,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. Also independent research has shown that children with these special advocates are less likely to spend long term time in foster care and also less likely to re-enter care. They are also less likely to bounce around to different home and more likely to be adopted. I think most importantly these kids with CASA advocates do better in school.
So who are CASA advocates? They are everyday people that want to do their part to help. I know a couple members and work with someone that is involved. It’s a great program that I’ve seen help both sides. It can open your eyes to what a foster kid really goes through and what is like to live in the system. It gives the youth someone with no agenda, that they can trust and know someone is looking out for them. 600,000 kids experience foster care each year. Last year nationwide 234,000 kids were helped by 77,000 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteer. Much help is need so if you’re interested check out the national CASA website for more info on how you can help.