WHO ARE WE?
What is a CASA?
A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate. He or she is a caring and dedicated community volunteer who has been trained to advocate for abused or neglected children in the court system. Court appointed special advocates represent the best interests of children in juvenile court proceedings and make recommendations regarding appropriate protective and rehabilitative services necessary to ensure a safe and permanent home for every child adjudicated as a child in need of services within the county.
What is the role of a CASA?
CASA volunteers ensure that each child's individual needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. They get to know the child, gathering information from family members, teachers, health care providers, social workers and anyone else involved in the child's life. They communicate with foster parents, DCS family case managers, attorneys, and other professionals, keeping the best interest of the child in the forefront of every meeting, conference, and discussion. The time spent getting to know the child, gathering information, and communicating with all of the parties in the case is all done in order to make independent and informed recommendations that help the judge decide what's best for the child.
Why is a CASA needed?
Statistically, a child who is appointed a CASA volunteer is less likely to languish in the foster care system, less likely to stay in long-term care or to re-enter the system, MORE likely to be adopted, and more likely to do better in school. CASAs ultimately save millions of taxpayer dollars.
Over the past five years, the number of children who have suffered abuse and neglect and entered into the juvenile justice system has increased exponentially due in large part to the opioid crisis.
Judges must make decisions about what happens to children who have been removed from their homes because they cannot safely live with their families. The judges assign attorneys to represent parents in the ensuing court process, but judges rely on a CASA volunteer, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, to provide them with recommendations on the child’s behalf.
The CASA may be the only one with sole focus on the child, the child’s situation, and the need for a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. Right now, children in Porter County are waiting for a CASA to be appointed as their representative in court because more volunteers are needed.
The future belongs to our children, and we cannot afford to fail to address the real needs of the generation of children before us now. Children deserve and need stability and permanence in order to develop into the productive individuals they all have the potential to be. CASA representation gives children a better chance at breaking dysfunctional life cycles and becoming healthy and contributing members of society. For children who have been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible.
Every child deserves a safe, and nurturing environment in which to grow, and the more trouble a child has finding it, the more our future is at stake.
CASAs help the children they represent. CASAs represent our future.