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Keeping Vulnerable Kids a Priority

April 29, 2016
Steve Sodders - IA State Senator , Traer Star-Clipper

Every child deserves a safe, permanent and nurturing home. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are there to help abused and neglected children by serving as their voice in court.

Iowa's Court Appointed Special Advocates Program is one of the few items not seeing cuts in this tight budget year. CASAs in all 99 counties are fully funded in the Administration & Regulation Budget (SF 2314) that passed the Senate this week.

The CASA program recruits and trains community volunteers who are assigned by a judge to represent a child under the Court's jurisdiction. A CASA typically is assigned one case at a time and promotes that child's best interests. The CASA makes sure the child is in a safe, nurturing place, that all parties work together to resolve problems and achieve permanency for the child, and that the judge is informed about the child's needs and how they are being met.

A CASA must become familiar with all aspects of a child's life, keeping in regular contact and developing a relationship that allows them to understand and communicate the child's needs and wishes. The CASA also gathers information from the child's parents, foster family and relatives; lawyers and guardians ad litem involved with the case; social workers, therapists and doctors; and anyone else with knowledge of the child's situation.

CASAs are ordinary citizens from all walks of life. They're simply caring adults who think independently, use good judgment in difficult situations, and communicate effectively. All applicants go through an intensive screening process. Once selected to be a CASA, volunteers average about 10 hours per month working on their case, with the help of an experienced child welfare professional who coordinates the CASA program locally.

Learn more about the work of CASAs in Iowa, and how you can become one at childadvocacy.iowa.gov.

 
 

 

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