Every year, more than 10,000 children languish in Arizona’s foster care system due to parental abuse or neglect. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program is an advocacy organization that trains community volunteers to speak up for abused and neglected children in court. October 2010 marked the 25th Anniversary of the CASA program in Arizona.
CASA is unique and the only program where everyday citizens are appointed by judges to speak up for a child’s safety and well-being. Since the beginning of the program, more than 15,000 children have been assisted by a CASA.
A CASA volunteer is appointed by a juvenile court judge to be the “eyes and ears of the court.” CASA volunteers work with foster children to make sure their best interests are being served within the child welfare system. CASA volunteers speak with parents, foster parents, Child Protective Services (CPS) workers, teachers, and more, to help provide valuable information to the judge about what is best for a child.
Currently, Arizona volunteers are speaking on behalf of approximately 1200 children. CASA volunteers are well trained, with no less than 30 hours of training prior to being assigned to a case. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. Since the program’s beginning, nearly 5000 people have volunteered to be a CASA, donating nearly one million hours of time.
CASA volunteers spend most of their volunteer time in contact with a child. They general handle one or two cases at a time so that they can give each child’s case the sustained, personal attention he or she deserves. Judges, attorneys, welfare workers, and parents overwhelmingly report that volunteers make a difference with the children they serve.
To learn more about the CASA program in Arizona, visit www.supreme.state.az.us/CASA/