What is CASA?
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASAs are community-based volunteers who are appointed by judges to serve in child abuse and neglect cases. Once assigned to a child, the volunteer researches the child's case, reviews documents, interviews relevant people, and makes a report to the court as to what is in the best interest of the child, in terms of services, placement, visitation, reunification, and permanency.
CASAs are objective, community volunteers who are not part of the child welfare system, who focus their efforts solely on gathering information and making recommendations regarding children in abuse, neglect, or dependency cases-- who would otherwise have no voice. Volunteers are carefully screened and are very well trained; they receive a minimum 30 hours of initial training and 12 hours of ongoing training each year.
CASA volunteers monitor the child’s situation while they are in foster care to make sure they are safe and to make sure their psychological, physical, educational and other needs are met. Volunteers are often the only constant the child knows as he/she moves through the labyrinth of the child welfare system. When a CASA volunteer accepts a case, they must agree to stay with it until the child has a safe, permanent home. Because volunteers carry only 1 or 2 cases at a time and are assigned to each case for its life, they typically have a depth and breadth of information that other parties may not have. Because of this extensive focus on the child, our national motto is "I am for the Child."
The Kentucky CASA Network
The Kentucky CASA Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, governed by a board of directors, providing ongoing development, training, technical assistance, and resources to local CASA programs across the Commonwealth. Currently, the Kentucky CASA Network is an association of 22 local programs, covering almost half of all Kentucky counties, which served 3,514 abused and neglected children in 2018. The KCN also advocates for the needs of CASA programs with industry stakeholders in the Capitol and throughout the state. In 2018, the Kentucky Legislature allocated $1.406 million in each FY'19 and FY'20 to be distributed to local CASA programs in the form of grants through the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. The KCN, as well as all local CASA programs, are governed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS).
The CASA programs in Kentucky are part of a larger national network. The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (NCASA) is a national organization advocating for abused and neglected children in the court system and in foster care. There are over 900 local CASA programs across the country receiving technical assistance and training from NCASA.
For more information on the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, visit www.CASAforChildren.org.