Each year, close to 1,000 abused or neglected children and youth in Contra Costa County come under the court's care because they are unable to live safely at home. Imagine what it would be like to be removed from your parents, not because of something you did, but because they cannot, or will not, take care of and protect you. Then into the lives of these children and youth come dozens of strangers: police, foster parents, social workers, judges, lawyers and more. For some, one of these may be a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer.
Because of the enormous number of cases filed in juvenile court and dwindling resources to adequately investigate cases, judges are often compelled to make permanency-planning decisions based on less than complete or objective information. This is where a CASA volunteer can and does make a difference.
CASA volunteers advocate one-on-one for abused and neglected children and youth in foster care to make sure they do not get lost in the over-burdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate placement. They are their voice in court and speak up for the child or youth’s best interests during the dependency process. Volunteers help reduce delays and continuances and stay with each case until it is closed and the child or youth is placed in a safe, permanent home. CASA volunteers visit weekly with the child or youth, and maintain ongoing communication with all parties involved in the case to best serve the child or youth's interests. For the volunteer, this means a commitment of a minimum of two years and an average of 15-20 hours per month of service.
In addition to our services for abused and neglected children and youth, the National CASA Association works to provide community education and awareness concerning the issues of child abuse, neglect and child welfare policy. It is also committed to working towards public policies that promote child abuse prevention and address reforms in the juvenile dependency and foster care systems.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program recruits, trains, and supports volunteer advocates as a powerful voice for the best interest of abused and neglected children during the court process, in order to help every child ultimately thrive in a stable and permanent home.
In support of our mission, CASA of Contra Costa County is committed to:
- Reducing the number of children and youth who are on our wait list who need a CASA volunteer today.
- Ensuring effective networking with the Contra Costa County Juvenile Court, Children and Family Services, the Child Abuse Prevention Council, and other agencies.
- Advocating for the rights and needs of all children and youth, regardless of race, religion, disability or sex.
- Providing a 45-hour training program to educate volunteers about the duties and responsibilities of becoming an advocate for abused and neglected children.
- Providing supervision, case consultation, in-service training, and team support to volunteers.
- Increasing public awareness of CASA and the needs of abused and neglected children and youth.
- Nurturing the development of a culturally competent and diverse organization.