Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Court Appointed Special Advocates

The primary purpose of CASA is to represent the best interest of the child. Court appointed special advocates visit the child's placement frequently, get to know the child, spend time ascertaining the facts -- and then come to court to share that information.

Four primary responsibilities of CASA volunteer:
1.) Investigate child's best interest
2.) Advocate (in court and with agencies) for that child and that child alone
3.) Facilitate an agreement between involved parties whenever possible
4.) Monitor the safety of the child's placement, and report back to court if that child is in need or in danger.

Benefits of CASA
Court appointed special advocates have one or two cases, whereas caseworkers and layers often have huge caseloads. So, not surprisingly, CASA volunteers visit the child's placement more frequently than social workers or lawyers.

Caseworkers represent their agency. Lawyers represent their firm. Because CASA workers are working for free, they are able to represent the child's best interest (ideally) without fear of financial reprisal.

It can be difficult for national organizations to maintain consistency on a local level. For this reason, CASA requires 30 hours of training at the onset, and then 12-15 hours of continued education each year.

You are not there to advocate for social services
Please be aware of this site: http://www.childadvocates.org/

The Houston organization, Child Advocates Inc., has a court-appointed volunteer program. However, these volunteers are encouraged to agree with and support the viewpoint of CPS.

Can you see how this is in direct violation of everything that CASA stands for?

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I was thinking of getting involved in the CASA in the next county over. Conroe, TX is about a 40 minute drive. I actually know two people from Conroe CASA from my partners in CPS reform. I sit by them often. I just think it would be wierd for me to join them when there's one in Houston. Or, they would think it was wierd. That's why I am glad for childbuilders and the WHO program. I can be a child advocate without being a CASA. There's more than one way to do it! I learned that along the way for sure!
Interested in the childbuilders and WHO.
Would you send me the links?
akacharliejames@gmail.com or just post them here.

The WHO link:


What we do is go into different public schools and teach the kids child abuse awareness and anti-victimization.

It's very empowering for them.

FCAA is working to establish a chapter in Texas, and I gave them the heads-up about Houston's "Child Advocates, Inc."

They wanted me to tell you "thanks," because this is the sort of thing that's very important for them to know.

And thanks for sharing information with CJ. He is hard at work in confronting child deaths, foster home shortages and other problems in the Clark County, Nevada foster care system.

Thanks for the links.
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