Portland, February 11th. The Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children received a boost from supporters at the Oregon Convention Center. Aviva Zigman, Heidi Grenley and Joyce Mendelsohn were lending a hand. The mission of CASA for Children is to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children who are under the protection of the court.
Each year, thousands of children in Multnomah and Washington Counties become wards of the juvenile court system because they have been victims of abuse and neglect. While many of these children remain at home while efforts are made to provide safety, others are placed in foster or other substitute care placements. Due to complex home situations and lack of resources, some children can spend years in foster care until they are reunited with their birth families, or placed in an adoptive home. Oregon’s child welfare system can only devote so much time and attention to each individual case. That’s where CASA – and maybe you – come in.
Court Appointed Special Advocates are ordinary men and women from all walks of life, educational levels and ethnic backgrounds who volunteer to serve as an advocate for a child or sibling group. Each volunteer commits to 10-20 hours per month over a 1½ – 2 year period of service. As a result of training and regular program supervision, CASAs bring objectivity, competence, tenacity and consistent advocacy into an overloaded child welfare system.
When a CASA volunteer is court-appointed to a case, he or she is responsible for gathering information, and coordinating as many elements as possible, in order to secure for each child a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. CASAs visit children regularly, review records, interview parents and relatives, consult with teachers, neighbors and foster care providers, and work closely with community service providers. They advocate for the children and families to gain access to needed support and services. They appear in court to advocate on behalf of the child’s needs and best interests.