For 40 years, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates, known as GAL, Guardians ad Litem in some US states), has advocated for a neglected or abused child’s best interests in court. Hundreds of thousands of children have found support from CASA volunteers in their journey through the legal system and foster care to find a safe, permanent home! As a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, our college chapter supported the great work of CASA through fundraising, volunteering, and advocacy—a partnership between the two organizations that has lasted for more than three decades!
The CASA model of advocacy is based on the guiding principle that, if safe, children thrive best with their families of origin. CASA advocates are appointed by judges to a child’s case, and work with lawyers, social welfare workers, educators, and others to make sure that judges have the most information to make the best decision for the child’s welfare. The CASA advocacy model includes learning all you can about the child’s life, engaging with the child regularly, collaborating with others to make sure the child is safe, and reporting to the court to help the judge make a well-informed decision.
All of these efforts make a huge difference! Studies have shown the impact of CASA advocacy for children’s outcomes. According to independent research studies, children with CASA advocates have reduced trauma, enhanced wellbeing, and are more likely to reach a permanent home, including with their families of origin!
There are so many ways to get involved with your local CASA organization (which you can find here at this website). Yes, you can volunteer to become a CASA advocate! You’ll receive 30 hours of initial training, followed by 12 hours of annual training as well as ongoing support to ensure that you advocate effectively for children. You can also advocate for public policy legislation that supports the CASA program to reach even more children in need, such as the Victims of Crime Act, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and Violence Against Women Act. And of course, you can also donate money in various ways: individually, through leadership opportunities, and through fundraising!
Thank you, Court Appointed Special Advocates, for making the world a better place!