SOS CASA of the Flint Hills

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CASA: Court-Appointed Special Advocate

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers are caring adults, like you, that advocate for the best interests of child victims of abuse, neglect and human trafficking who are involved in the court system.

For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.

CASA volunteers uncover facts in cases of child abuse, neglect, human trafficking and/or custody disputes. CASA volunteers get to know everyone involved in the case, developing a special relationship with the children built on trust and dependability.

CASA volunteers advocate for the child’s needs through conversations with service providers, participation in meetings regarding the child, and through recommendations made in reports to the court.

CASA volunteers remain as the child’s advocate until the child finds permanency, regardless of where the child might be placed. This gives the child a consistent adult in their lives, and brings continuity and case knowledge to the case, which is sometimes lost due to turn over in service providers.

CASA volunteers are very beneficial to children, and the children who are assigned a CASA tend to have much better outcomes. For example, children who have had a CASA are more likely to attend college, less likely to become parents of children in the foster care system, less likely to re-enter foster care themselves, and more likely to be prepared for adulthood.

kids on a summer lawn - National CASA

photo: National CASA

Volunteer Training

Volunteers go through a comprehensive training in which they learn everything they need to know about how to be an effective advocate. SOS CASA of the Flint Hills is part of a national network of community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children in courtrooms and communities.

If you are willing to be a powerful catalyst for change in the life of an abused or neglected child, or a child victim of human trafficking, please consider CASA. To find out more, please visit www.casaforchildren.org or contact our local program.

The application can be mailed to:
SOS CASA of the Flint Hills, PO Box 1191, Emporia, KS 66801 or emailed to Dena Russell. Call 620-343-2744 to learn more.

Because it is the only program of its kind, empowered directly by the courts to provide children with one-on-one advocacy, CASA has the ability to transform well-meaning but often ineffective systems of child protection.

Volunteer Application

 Frequently Asked Questions about CASA

 What is a CASA volunteer advocate?

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court.

All of the children served by CASA are victims of abuse and neglect.

Who does CASA serve?

CASA serves child victims of abuse, neglect and human trafficking from birth to 18+ years of age in Lyon and Chase counties. We also assist the court in difficult custody situations to offer an objective point of view regarding the child’s best interest.

What is the role of a CASA?

The volunteer provides a judge with carefully researched background details about the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future.

Each case is as unique as the child involved. The advocate evaluates the child’s situation to recommend whatever is in the child’s best interest. The advocate follows through on the case until it is permanently resolved.

 How do CASAs investigate a case?

The volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. They also review all records pertaining to the child−school, medical, case worker reports and other documents.

 How are CASAs different from social service caseworkers?

Social workers generally are employed by state governments sometimes working on as many as 60 to 90 cases at a time; they are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each case. The CASA has more time and a smaller caseload to work (CASAs typically are only assigned to 1 case at a time.) The CASA does not replace a social worker on a case; they are an independent appointee of the court. The CASA thoroughly examines a child’s case, knows about various community resources and makes recommendations to the court independent of state agency restrictions.

 How is the CASA different from the child’s attorney?

The CASA does not provide legal representation in the courtroom−that is the role of the attorney. However, the CASA does provide crucial background information that assists attorneys in presenting their cases. It is important to remember that CASA do not represent a child’s wishes in court. Rather, they speak through their court report for the child’s best interests.

 Is there a “typical” CASA?

Our advocates come from all walks of life and possess a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds.  There are no special educational requirements or prior knowledge of social welfare issues required to become a CASA.   Many volunteers are full-time employed, others are retired, some are students, and both men and women are CASAs.  Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, and CASA is pleased to host advocates from age 21 up.

 How do CASAs help children?

CASAs offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings. They help explain to the child the events happening involving the case, reasons they are in court and the roles of the judge, lawyers and case workers. While remaining objective observers, volunteerss also encourage the child to express his or her own opinion and hopes about the case.  Comparatively, in like cases, children who have had a CASA representing their best interests tend to see less time in foster care.  The children are provided with more tailored services to meet their unique needs, and are provided with a consistent adult with whom they can develop a trusting relationship.  Because they are trained to advocate for the child’s needs, the CASA continually assesses the child’s situation, and identifies appropriate resources to benefit the child.  Children who have a CASA are also more likely to find a permanent home.

 Do lawyers, judges and social caseworkers support CASA?

Yes. Juvenile and family court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department ofJustice.  The federal government also supports CASA, making CASA a priority project of the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

 How much time is required to volunteer?

Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases can take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work about 10 hours a month.

The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child. SOS CASA of the Flint Hills requires a 2 year volunteer commitment.

 Are there other agencies or groups providing a similar service?

No. There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child’s best interests.

 How many children are in need in Kansas?

At any given time, half a million children are in foster care nationwide.  About 50,000 children in Kansas have been removed from their homes and could benefit from a CASA volunteer’s advocacy.

 


To join our fight against child abuse, click here to fill out our volunteer application.

Subscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter by emailing us!

Contact:

Dena Russell

620-343-2744

SOS CASA of the Flint Hills

Helpful Links:

National CASA

Kansas CASA Association

SOS CASA
P.O. Box 1191
Emporia, KS 66801

Contact SOS

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Supported in part by the United Way of the Flint Hills