CBS

Information on Child Advocates

Posted on Nov 16, 2011 05:04am

Dr. Maria Oquendo

Make a Lifelong Difference for an Abused Child
This year alone, over half a million abused and neglected children will navigate the uncertain waters of the child welfare system. Through no fault of their own, they are currently unable to live safely at home. One by one, 50,000+ Court Appointed Special Advocate™ (CASA) volunteers are standing up to ensure that these children have the best possible chance at a bright future.­

Americans can support this effort by becoming a court-appointed volunteer advocate or by supporting the work of CASA in recruiting, training and supervising these volunteers.

The Role of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

In 1977, a Seattle judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. So successful was this Seattle program that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the US Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA volunteer advocacy with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act.

Today, CASA has grown to a network of volunteers serving over 225,000 abused and neglected children each year through 900 local program offices nationwide. Our advocates, also known as volunteer guardians ad litem (GALs) in some jurisdictions, are appointed officers of the court. Judges rely on the information these trusted advocates present.

In addition to helping children find their way to permanent homes, volunteers make sure that children (and often their parents) receive needed services (for example, therapy, healthcare and education).

A Highly Meaningful Volunteer Opportunity
CASA programs provide the only volunteer opportunity that empowers everyday citizens as appointed officer of the court. In an overburdened social welfare system, abused and neglected children often slip through the cracks as one of hundreds of current cases.

CASA volunteers change that. Trained by CASA and appointed by judges, volunteers typically handle just one case at a time - and commit to staying on that case until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. While others may come and go, CASA volunteers provide that one constant that children need to thrive.

The Urgent Need for Public Support
CASA can only now serve one-third of the abused and neglected children in need. With broader public support from volunteers and donors, thousands more can be helped CASA reach its goal of providing a volunteer advocate for every child who needs one.

For more information about CASA, to become an advocate, or to support CASA's work, visit www.nationalCASA.org.