This Blog Posting Is A Little Different
On May 9, 2017, after a long period of training, review and background checks, I was sworn-in as a CASA volunteer. I don’t usually talk about things I’m involved with but with this month’s focus on Child Abuse Prevention, I’d like to take just a few short minutes to highlight the CASA program and their focus of work in our community.
Court Appointed Special Advocates
CASA was originally established as a solution to address the tragedy of abused and neglected children who linger in the foster care system with little hope for permanency. At the request of Judge Andrew Gallagher, the CASA Program began in our community in 1993 to provide him with information necessary to make decisions regarding the welfare of children previously removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
CASAs are specially trained volunteers who serve as officers of the court and “friends” to children in need. As volunteer advocates, we are assigned by judges to speak on behalf of children who have been placed in foster care due to abuse or neglect. We provide a critically important service as we investigate all aspects of the child’s case, and report our findings in writing to the judge. Our primary objective is to ensure each child is placed in a safe, permanent home. On average, when a CASA is involved with a case, a child’s time in foster care is reduced by approximately half of what it would be without a CASA volunteer.
To learn more about the CASA program watch this short video
One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, we are a consistent figure in the proceedings and provide continuity for the child, staying involved with the child and the case until its resolution. We work with all agencies and parties involved to gather information and to provide an independent report for the Court with recommendations based solely upon the child’s best interest.
We have a very different role than either the child’s attorney or social worker. A child's attorney provides legal representation and in Louisiana, children's attorneys are "client directed" and must advocate for the wishes of their child client. We advocate for the best interest of the child, which may or may not be in line with the child's wishes and while social workers, like child attorneys, work many cases at one time, as a CASA volunteer I serve an average of two children at a time and work in conjunction with social services to ensure the best possible outcomes for the child. We’re an independent voice, separate from the social services system and government agencies that may be constrained by rules and regulations, agency policies, and fiscal limitations.
The CASA program in our local area is administered by the Volunteers for Youth Justice (VYJ). VYJ annually recruits, trains and supports hundreds of volunteers to provide services for children at-risk. Currently, VYJ can only support 60% of the children in need of crisis intervention in North Louisiana. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this month and throughout the year, Volunteers for Youth is dedicated to supporting families to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. Would you please consider how you too could help support a child in need?
To find out more about how you can play a part and help create positive change in our community,
contact Christie Lamoureux at 318-216-5479 or Christie.email@example.com
for more information on how you can become
a CASA Volunteer.