NY Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a volunteer who becomes the child’s voice in court. The volunteer “has one mission: to make sure that children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, do not spend needless time in foster care, that they are returned to rehabilitated and loving parents, or freed for adoption, or prepared to leave foster care and be on their own.”
I’m writing about CASA today because the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has proposed eliminating New York State’s CASA financing, $800,000, for the coming year, and to ask you to:
After my own training, I was given my first case – a fourteen years old mother, and her nine-month-old baby boy. An overwhelmed social service department had no time and not enough workers to properly investigate the circumstances that landed her in the system.
A judge charged me with the task of providing him with enough information to properly adjudicate the case. After many hours of interviews with everyone who knew the girl – relatives, social workers, teachers, and the father of the child – I was ready. I went to court and handed the judge a detailed report and my recommendations. Armed with vital information, the judge was able to determined what was in the best interests of both children, mother and child – a good home with a reliable relative.
My next case involved a little girl six and her four-year-old brother. Their parents hired both of them out as toys to sexual deviants. With the help of a child psychiatrist and a guardian ad litem, my CASA supervisor and I spent long hours trying to straighten out that mess. The children’s parents fought for the kids but ultimately, their parental rights were severed and the judge ordered treatment for the seriously damaged children, care in the safety of a foster home, and the possibility of adoption.
There are 61 CASA programs in New York that recruit, train, and supervise nearly 905 volunteers advocating for children in the court and welfare system. New York City alone served 1500 children just last year using only two administrators and a small team of social workers spread across five boroughs plus 120 volunteers.
Across the country “More than a million of America’s children are confirmed to be abused and neglected each year; the continued support and expansion of CASA is an integral tool to help those children stay safe. There are no other programs in the United States comparable to CASA’s mission and model.”
Last year, more than 77,000 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers helped 234,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. CASA volunteers are everyday citizens who have undergone screening and training with their local CASA/GAL program.
No matter where you live, there is a CASA office near you. If you are interested in donating to a CASA Project or becoming a CASA in the Kansas City area, contact:
CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties
5700 Broadmoor St., Suite 201 Mission, Kansas 66202 913.715.4040 913.715.4030 FAX email@example.com.
Jackson County CASA
2544 Holmes Kansas City MO 64108 816-842-7788 email: firstname.lastname@example.org