A Court Appointed Special Advocate is a volunteer designated by a judge to work in the best interests of children who have been victimized by abuse or neglect. The CASA will assist victimized children by working to provide them with a stable network of support and advocacy that they may otherwise not have access too.
Ideally, a CASA can work to keep the child from being put under too much pressure from the unpredictable vacuum of social services and foster homes. It is common for troubled children without proper support systems to "fall through the cracks" and be left at the mercy of group homes that subject them to unchecked abuse; with a CASA in place, however, some of these children might be able to be helped before the worst case scenario comes to pass.
Many children who are at the highest risk of suffering from abuse will look to their CASA as a constant and stable adult presence in their lives for support and guidance. In each individual case, the CASA remains with their appointed child until it is determined that no further assistance is required and the case is closed. Oftentimes, it will be determined that the CASA's work is done after the child that they've worked with has been placed in a safe and stable home.
The efficacy of the CASA program has been thoroughly studied in order to get a better grasp of the program's overall effectiveness. What the examinations have shown is that children who are assisted through the CASA program are more likely to find a permanent home that provides a safe environment. The various findings that examinations of the CASA outcome effectiveness have produced make the following implications:
- CASA-assisted children are only half as likely to reenter a foster care system
- CASA-assisted children are more likely to be adopted
- CASA-assisted children of age 14 are less likely to spend an extended amount of time in a long-term foster care system
- CASA-assisted children are more likely than not to have an effective plan for permanency
The examinations of the CASA program's effectiveness have also shown that children who have CASA volunteers are more likely to have services ordered for their benefit while involved in the system.
The examinations also showed that children who have the support of a CASA volunteer are less likely than others to consistently bounced to different homes. An effective CASA volunteer can ideally provide the child they support with a better quality of representation in general, along with reducing the amount of time that would be required by lawyers.
In addition to reducing the amount of time needed by lawyers, CASA volunteers were also found be more likely than a lawyer to file written reports for the child's benefit. CASA volunteers are particularly adept at having their recommendations considered and successfully adopted by the court system in order to enact beneficial changes for the child's welfare.
Benefits in Academic Performance and Social Conduction
Studies of CASA volunteer efficacy illustrated that the volunteers not only provided their children with a better network of support, but also that their involvement in the child's life resulted in a higher than average chance at passing all academic courses and a smaller chance of being met with disciplinary action for misconduct.
With a Court Appointed Special Advocate, all aspects of children who suffer from abuse or neglect can be improved. Children supported by CASA are more likely to find stable homes, pass their courses, be ordered beneficial services, and have a better chance of staying out of trouble.