CASA – A Powerful Voice In A Child’s Life
As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or Guardian ad Litem volunteer, your voice can help the Court in finding a safe permanent home for children where they can thrive.
ad Litem for Children
In 2004, Judge Kathleen L. Giesler partnered with Erie County CASA to bring the volunteer program to Ottawa County. In its first year, 7 volunteers advocated for children in more than 30 abuse, neglect, dependency or delinquency cases here in Ottawa County. In January 2008, Ottawa County CASA became it’s own program. There are currently 24 volunteers serving 64 children.
The Volunteer’s Role
As a child advocate the CASA volunteer has three main responsibilities:
To serve as a fact-finder for the Court by completely researching the background of child abuse and neglect cases. The CASA volunteer may do this by reviewing documents and interviewing the child, parents, family members, neighbors, school officials, and doctors.
To speak for the child in the courtroom, focusing exclusively on the child’s best interests. A CASA volunteer provides carefully researched information to help the Judge or Magistrate make decisions.
To continue to monitor the child during the life of the case, helping to insure he or she will be raised in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home.
Becoming A Volunteer
CASA volunteers are everyday people who come from all walks of life. They have a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. No special or legal background is required. Volunteers are screened closely for objectivity, competence, and commitment, and then undergo a thorough training course administered by the CASA staff. Volunteers learn courtroom procedures from Judges, lawyers, and social workers. They also receive training in effective advocacy techniques for children, and other topics such as early child development and adolescent behavior.
What CASA Volunteers Do
CASA volunteers work by judicial appointment. They are assigned to a child who is the subject of a court case alleging abuse, neglect, or private custody, and are asked to help determine the living arrangement that is in the child’s best interest.
Speak Up For A Child
You can help children who are caught up in the complexities of the court system. Volunteer to speak up for a child in court and become a CASA Volunteer.
Choose the CASA Difference
A child with a CASA/GAL volunteer is more likely to find a safe, permanent home as soon as possible.
What the Data Tells Us
For more than 40 years, CASA volunteers have been a stable presence in the lives of children who have been neglected or abused.
More likely to be adopted
Half as likely to re-enter foster care
Substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
Children with CASA volunteers spend less time in foster care and are less likely to be bounced around from home to home
More services are ordered for the children
CASA volunteers are successful in having their recommendations adopted by the court
Children with CASA volunteers get more help while in the system and are more likely to have a consistent, responsible adult presence
More likely to pass all courses in school
Less likely to have poor conduct in school
Interviewing significant people in the child’s life: parents, siblings, relatives, foster parents, doctors, teachers, and others.
Visiting the child multiple times in various settings.
Reviewing relevant facts of the case.
Facilitating a case resolution by identifying resources for the child and helping to ensure the child obtains needed services.
Writing and submitting a report to the court advocating for the placement and treatment options that are in the child’s best interest.
Monitoring and supporting the child throughout mandated treatment and services.