Traditional CASA Advocates
Advocates make a two year commitment to spend time a minimum of every other week with a child who is a dependent or a non minor dependent of the court as a result of having been physically, sexually or emotionally abused, neglected, or abandoned. The advocate also interviews all parties involved with the case to develop independent opinions and provide information and recommendations to the court which address the best interests of the child. Advocates also provide a stable, consistent adult presence in the child’s life and advocate for the needs of the child.
Advocates are required to do the following:
- Complete 30 hours of initial training
- Complete 12 hours of annual in-service training
- Submit written reports to the court at each court hearing (usually twice a year)
- Contact all parties involved on the case on a regular/as needed basis
- Submit monthly logs
- Have monthly contact with the Case Supervisor
CASA on Call
Experienced CASAs are recruited to serve in a short- term assignment for children who are deemed by the Court to be in crisis or have immediate advocacy needs. Examples of such a need might be a child who has come before the Court as a result of abuse which has resulted in criminal proceedings against the perpetrator and the child is going to be called on to testify in criminal court. Typically a CASA on Call should not remain on a case more than a few months and if the need remains a traditional CASA is assigned. The role is primarily advocacy.
Emancipation Advocates are assigned to work with youth 16-18 years of age to help prepare them for independent living. The advocate’s role is to provide information and guidance for the youth as he/she begins to explore options for the future. The advocate’s work with the youth includes but is not limited to: preparing for high school graduation, job/career planning, building daily living skills, and making sure the professionals in the youth’s life have helped the youth secure housing for post emancipation. Advocates who work with an emancipation age youth are offered additional training and receive special information and updates about available scholarships and other assistance to the emancipating teen.
With the passage of AB12 which allows a youth to remain in the system until 21 (implementation began in 2012 allowing the youth to remain in the system until age 19, 2013 until age 20, and finally until 21 in 2014) those youth are called non minor dependents and the advocate’s role is to assist them to develop all the skills they need to advocate for themselves. There is also special training for the advocates who either are initially assigned to a youth over the age of 18 or whose youth becomes 18 during the time they are working together. The advocate is trained to become more of a coach.
Educational Representatives are appointed and assigned to a child who has extensive educational needs. There are no specific meeting requirements with the child, with the emphasis being on educational needs only. The traditional advocate sometimes assumes the role of Educational Representative as well although some children have both a traditional advocate and an Educational Representative. The Educational Representative holds the child’s education rights and has the authority to make educational decisions and sign educational documents on a child’s behalf. The Educational Representative attends school meetings, IEPs, monitors progress, writes reports to the Court, etc. There is additional specialized training for those advocates who take on the role of Educational Representative.
CASA Family Connection
Advocates are recruited to research all available records (such as legal files, social service files, public records) including the use of internet search tools in an effort to locate a lifelong adult connection for a child, specifically someone from the child’s family or a person who has been a meaningful adult in the child’s life. A key role of CASA is to find permanency for each child served and that permanency may be physical or emotional. The Family Connections advocates receive a few hours of additional training to learn the tools and the approach.
Learning to Succeed Program
CASA’s Learning to Succeed program was created in 2011 to help promising foster youth be successful in high school, college and their lives beyond. The statistics for foster youth are staggering: 70% of the teens who emancipate from foster care report that they want to attend college, but less than 50% graduate from high school. Fewer than 10% of those who graduate from high school enroll in college, and of those, less than 1% graduate from college. After becoming painfully aware of these disturbing statistics, Ron Livingston and his daughter, Lori McKay, approached CASA in an attempt to change the circumstances of foster youth and partnered with CASA to develop Learning to Succeed. They have devoted their time, passion and financial support through the Livingston Family Foundation to make a difference in the lives of foster youth. Visit www.casalts.com for more information.