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How CASA Volunteers Help Foster Children

        The benefits that a CASA volunteer provides a foster child have been well documented. 
A recent audit conducted by the US Department of 
Justice Office of the Inspector General
demonstrates that once a CASA
volunteer is assigned, approximately:
•  95% of children do not languish in long-term foster care.
•  90% of children do not reenter the child welfare system.

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WHAT IS A CASA Volunteer ?

CASA volunteers are appointed by local courts having jurisdiction over children in the custody of their respective Departments of Social (or Human) Services to represent the best interests of those children until they return to or find a new permanent home.  In many states we're known as Guardians ad Litem.  We report directly to the presiding judge and are completely independent of any other person or agency working with either the child, child's family, foster parents, schools, or other service providers.  We're here to work with all these folks toward achieving a safe and permanent home for children we're assigned to.


Our first task is to independently investigate the causes for a child's removal from the home.  To ensure to our satisfaction that this action was appropriate and for the right reasons.  We are empowered to call witnesses at any time including during the hearing which establishes those grounds for removal.  Almost always DHS/DSS will present this case without the need for further CASA input.  Following this portion of the hearing, determinations are made as to the course of action appropriate to correcting the situation that brought about removal and to properly caring for the individual needs of the children now placed in foster care.  Having researched past  case history and contacted family members, school personnel, law enforcement staff, and other service providers who may have already been involved, we make recommendations in court as to what course of action and array of services we believe will best serve the child and family as they strive for reunification.

Once that course has been set,  our independent, volunteer role allows us to be in a position to facilitate the coordination of services, promote dialog and cooperation among all involved, and to be an impartial source of new information and developing observations which can serve to promote progress in the case.  When delays or unresolvable disagreements arise, CASA volunteers can request judicial review to help resolve such matters so children don't have to languish in foster care while problems beyond  their control are not dealt with.   We also report to the court at the time of scheduled review hearings and to community review boards monitoring the progress of foster care cases. 

But perhaps the most important role a CASA typically performs is in remaining the single constant participant in that child's life while in foster care, spanning reassignments of social workers, and much too often a change of foster placement and school attended.  We are constantly reminded that "Children can't wait."  Their concept of time, especially at younger ages, is far different than that of adults.  They also develop behaviors and attitudes which are best formed in a stable loving home rather than in the uncertainty of family upheaval, pain, loss, and confusion which is inevitable when facing life as a foster child.  Despite the often heroic efforts of the most loving of foster parents, the more a child's enviornment changes, the more unpredictable it becomes, and in response a defensive wall of distrust and even anger develops to one degree or another, setting the child back even further.  Achieving permanency in a safe home as quickly as possible is the overriding concern of the CASA - the child's best interest which the CASA is appointed to represent.  We're here throughout the entire process until the child returns to his parents or can be placed in a welcoming and loving adoptive home.


CASA  IN  OREGON  -  2009

VIDEO INTRODUCING CASA